A Timaru basketballer is home after playing in the United States.
Luca Shaw (17) lived in the country for about 10 months to study and play basketball.
Luca’s father is from the United States, so when he was going over in December to spend more time with family, Luca opted to go too.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to further my career in basketball and see where it took me,” Luca said.
Before he left, Luca was a member of the Roncalli College basketball team, and represented Waitaha Canterbury.
While in the United States, he lived in Pennsylvania with his grandmother and was a sophomore at Strath Haven High School.
He practised basketball six days a week, and played twice a week.
Games were played against other school teams in the district and were more physical than the ones played in New Zealand, Luca said.
“Everyone is six foot six, and everyone can jump and dunk on you,” he said.
“Everyone is trying to make it to the college level.”
Adjusting to life overseas was tough initially, especially getting up at 6am to catch the bus to be at school by 7.30am.
Classes were 80 minutes long, so every day was a “long day”.
Things were going well for the first month or so until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and “everything stopped”, he said.
Most shops and businesses, aside from essentials, were closed and people were not going out, he said.
After about two months, things started to open up again.
Due to the effects of the pandemic, he returned to New Zealand in September with his stepmother and stepbrother.
They completed two weeks of quarantine in Wellington, during which Luca played video games and watched movies to stay entertained.
Back in Timaru, he is studying online and will return to Roncalli next year.
He was unsure whether he would return to the basketball scene in the United States, but still enjoyed playing the game.