Chelsea Leeder takes her game abroad
For senior-to-be Chelsea Leeder, she is about to experience an opportunity of a lifetime.
Selected as one of 10 women to participate with the USA D3 Basketball All-Star Team, she will be a part of a basketball tour August 4-13 through Brazil.
After helping the Pirates to their most wins (19) since moving to NCAA Division III, she was named First-Team All-Region and earned an invitation to participate with the USA D3 Basketball All-Stars.
Operated in Orlando, Fla., USA Sports Events has helped some of the top athletes in NCAA Division III basketball, volleyball and soccer participate against top international competition. For the fourth year they will travel through Brazil playing against all-star teams that include members of the Brazil national team.
Having never traveled outside of the country, Leeder continues about her day the only way she knows how.
"I have been working out, lifting and shooting around every day," Leeder said. "I have never traveled outside of the southern United States, so I'm pumped."
After securing her passport and visa in July, Leeder will embark on her first trip outside of the United States on Sunday. She will meet her teammates for the first time and participate in one practice in Orlando before heading to Brazil.
"I'm a little nervous that I don't know anyone else on the team, but excited for the experience," Leeder replied. "To play with and against new players will be awesome. Hopefully I will be able to come back not just a better basketball player, but a better leader too."
The excitement has also carried over into the coaching staff as well.
Southwestern Head Coach Kerri Brinkoeter carried a big smile talking about Leeder's upcoming trip.
"I'm so thrilled for Chelsea. She has worked so hard to not just prepare for this trip, but for the upcoming season," Brinkoeter said. "We couldn't have a better representative for Southwestern basketball in Chelsea. Playing with some of the top talent in the country will help her and benefit our team."
One practice in Orlando and one practice in Rio De Jeneiro, Brazil will be all the team will have to get acclimated to each other before a string of five games in seven days.
However, Leeder's career has led her to this point after setting the Southwestern all-time three-point record last season and will start her senior season with 183. Leeder also holds the school record for three-pointers in a season and three-pointer in a game.
"It's going to happen quick, but hopefully this will allow me to see different views on the basketball floor and help bring them back for my senior season," Leeder said. "I'm going to be the fourth tallest player on the team so I'm not sure how I'll fit in. I think it will allow me to become a more complete player and help us next season."
Although the experience will be a memorable one for Leeder, she continues to keep focus on one goal. A conference championship.
"We were close last year and more than anything I want this experience to help us next season," she replied.
Coach Brinkoeter echoed her praise of her senior's focus.
"Chelsea is a great leader on our team and ambassador for Southwestern," she said. "She has helped take our program to the next level and we want to continue to build on that. You can see that in her passion and drive."
Leeder is scheduled to graduate next spring with a degree in psychology. Although, she wants to keep her options open you can tell where her focus lies.
"I'm excited to meet new people and have always wanted to travel," she said. "I love basketball and hopefully this will help me make the connections I need if an opportunity arises to play overseas.
"It's hard not to think about what you're going to do after school or how I can use my degree. I hope this will make me better and as a team we will be even better next year. Our eyes are on that conference championship."