Growing up in Denmark, Emily White was more interested in team handball than basketball.
It wasn’t until she was 18 that she decided to follow her sister into basketball.
“I played handball for eight years before my sister talked me into trying basketball and I fell in love with it,” said the RDC Queens first-year post player.
It’s been a steady rise since. In fact she made an impression with the Danish senior national team and was invited to camp this year, although she couldn’t attend as she was on her way to RDC.
She played four years in the Danish League before being contacted by RDC Queens head coach Ken King.
“I wanted to play in the Danish League to see how far I could go with it,” she said. “I was going to play again this year, but Ken contacted me about joining the Queens and Eva (Bonde, who is also from Denmark).
“I didn’t know Eva was coming until he told me. I did have offers from other schools, but I’m glad I came here. It’s worked out well.”
King didn’t know much about White until he watched some video.
“Once I talked to her I realized she would not only be good on the court, but a leader off the court,” he said.
He’s glad he made the contact. The six-foot-two White can shoot from the outside if needed but is one of the premier inside players in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
She is averaging 12 points, 9.43 rebounds and 2,.14 blocks per game. She leads the Queens with 2.86 steals and 2.43 assists per start. Her totals would be higher except she only played briefly in a win over Briercrest last weekend.
Over the last five years White had to make a pair of adjustments, first from handball to basketball and then from Denmark to Canada.
“The biggest adjustment I had when it came to basketball was in handball you can take three steps with the ball while in basketball you can take two,” she said. “As for basketball there and here the difference I found was the officiating.
“In Danish League there’s a lot of bigger girls and they allow you to play a more physical game,” she said. “I don’t mind the physical play, but it’s a little different here and I had to adjust … but I’m getting used to it.
“I also learned not to talk to the officials,” the 23-year-old said with a laugh.
White, who was born in Florida and moved to Denmark when she was six, is one of the new players to join a handful of veterans as the Queens look to turn their program around. Although they have a 3-4 record, they have already shown they can play with the league’s best teams.
“One of the reasons I wanted to come here was because the team was struggling … I wanted to see if I could help change that.”
The Queens have a legitimate shot at a playoff berth, especially once they learn to close out games.
“We have a lot of good players, but we’re still not a team yet,” she said. “You could see that against Lethbridge. They’ve been together for some time and they know how to finish a game. The more we’re together the more we will learn that.”
White is obviously the team’s No. 1 post player, but she’s not against helping the other forwards on the team.
“One of the best things about her is that she’s willing to help our other forwards. They’ve come along as well,” said King.
Janelle Kakakaway is the only returnee backing up White.
“Janelle is a big part of giving me time to rest,” said White.
“We’re both faster players and a good combination. As for the other girls I enjoy working with them. I know Anna (Houtman) is getting a lot better and the more she works on stuff she will be good.”
White also spends time with Shaylee Farren, red shirt Maria Penner, who is coming off a knee injury, and Kassi Taylor.
The Queens have two games remaining on the 2015 portion of their schedule as they face SAIT in a home-and-home series — tonight at 6 p.m. at RDC and Saturday in Calgary.
White has loved her time in Red Deer, but is looking forward to returning home for Christmas.
“The people here are great, they make it easy to adjust, but I know my mom misses me,” she said with a smile.
White and Bonde will make the trip home together, which “makes travelling that much easier”.
The Kings take a 7-0 record into the weekend with SAIT at 1-7. The SAIT women are 3-5.