Bologna, Italy — Naomi Cernina Taius is not feeling 100%, so she’s resting at residence as Virtus Segafredo Bologna and ZVVZ USK Praha take court docket on a wet mid-December night time. It is Naomi’s first time with the flu, and whereas she’s been getting over her bout, some worldwide journey within the weeks main as much as the sport has her feeling a bit of below the climate.
Not less than that is what her mother, Cheyenne Sernina Parker, thinks.
In the course of the mid-season Euroleague competitors, Parker’s daughter is simply over every week away from celebrating her first birthday. Nearly every little thing remains to be new to Naomi. A lot of additionally it is new to Parker. “It was simply the journey of studying to be a mom,” she says.
Parker was chosen fifth within the 2015 WNBA Draft by Chicago Sky She performed six seasons with the franchise to start her profession. She has spent the previous two years with Atlanta Dream. All WNBA The 30-year-old striker’s offseason has blasted everywhere in the world – initially to China, ultimately to South Korea and France. The time she spent in Italy this winter, she says, is “very completely different” from these; She is now a first-time mom. With motherhood comes a altering mindset: “The ball is life, however there’s extra to life than the ball,” says Parker. “Now that I’ve that perspective, the stress will go away.”
Whether or not or not Naomi realizes it, basketball is already a giant a part of her life. She’s spent the summer season going to the Dream Video games – Parker performed in each competitors final season, months after she was born on December 27, 2021. Throughout Parker’s time in Italy, she was an everyday in Bologna competitions too, each at residence and on the highway. She is usually stationed on the playground with Parker’s mom, Verna Bryant, who has been in Italy serving to along with her granddaughter’s kids as she has since Naomi’s start.
Parker says she thinks typically of the sacrifices she’s made to take care of a excessive customary on the court docket, whether or not it is being away from her child for hours at a time to work on her recreation, or her household adjusting her life. She will be able to reside out her profession goals, or the bodily and psychological toll on her physique from breastfeeding and taking part in on the identical time. “However that is what retains me going, actually,” she says. “It is my gasoline. Listening to my teammates give me props or simply name me wonderful for with the ability to deal with all of it. It lets me know, yeah, what I do is tough, even difficult generally. However it’s all value it and it makes it a journey.” Way more wonderful that I may share along with her in the future.”
Parker’s fiancé, Kevin Teus, provides: “She is a robust girl. Not each girl can do what she does.”
Forward of her December 4 highway match towards Passalacqua Ragusa, Naomi wasn’t feeling her greatest and wanted to relaxation. Nevertheless, Parker wanted to begin stress-free her muscle tissue. In court docket, wearing uniform quantity 32, she held her child in her arms and rocked it whereas she squatted.
Within the days that adopted, Naomi’s situation worsened (she’s since recovered), so whereas Parker and her teammates flew to Athens for a two-day journey to play Olympiacos, Naomi stayed residence. This was the primary prolonged time frame Parker had been away from her daughter. “It was laborious. It was loopy,” she mentioned. “I did not know what to do with myself.”
Bologna returned to Italy with a 79-63 win in Greece, however had two extra video games on the highway. Bryant was coping with her personal battle with the flu, and because of this didn’t journey with the group to Campobasso, a metropolis in southern Italy, and to Szczard, Hungary.
Within the Italian league competitors, Parker entrusts Naomi to the palms of Angela Gianola, the sporting director of Virtus. Anxiousness crept in earlier than the competition about how Naomi would really feel whereas taking part in. Parker says she tried meditation and prayer beforehand. “I have no idea why, [but] It was emotional,” she says. She scored 25 factors and grabbed 9 rebounds with Naomi alongside Gianola on the finish of the bench.
4 nights later, Naomi is asleep when Polonia enters Szekszárd’s enviornment. When it was time to heat up, I organized some chairs collectively and laid Naomi on them, with group supervisor Roberta Resta watching intently. As soon as the motion tilted, every time Bologna was on the free throw line (or throughout different stops) Parker would look down on her child. Resist the urge to stroll, although, as a result of she says, “If I get too shut, she’ll need me.”
In juggling motherhood and her profession, Parker says it helps that Naomi has “all the time been very adaptable”—a perk, she notes, that stems from herself. Naomi has began consuming pasta with purple sauce. Spaghetti is my favorite. I quickly made it to the European appointment, and acquired up two or thrice every night time to nurse earlier than going again to mattress. “I by no means miss an opportunity to sleep,” says Parker. “If she’s asleep, I positively will probably be.” In contrast to guys with out newborns, napping along with her daughter is “most likely my greatest guess” for any noon relaxation, she provides.
Her teammates nonetheless invite Parker to hang around, and he or she says she nonetheless generally goes to dinner with them. The dynamic, although, is “positively completely different,” she says—not solely is she Virtus’ second-oldest participant, however she’s the one mother or father on the checklist.
Parker says her daughter is the scale of a two-year-old and that Naomi is keen on taking part in with folks. Parker says she made some associates on the video games, together with the youngsters of assistant coach Jordan Losey. Her mother says Naomi is aware of methods to throw and cross. Her taking pictures approach, Parker says, “that is a bit of bit backwards in the meanwhile.”
Attributable to Italian visa guidelines, Tyus spent the early a part of Parker’s season overseas in america. He arrived in Italy in mid-December and introduced not solely extra help, however extra breast pumps, Tylenol and Pampers. Parker traveled to Italy stuffed with the latter — she additionally made certain to convey Aveeno Child lotion and shampoo, and Child Dove lotion, wanting to make use of the merchandise she and Naomi are used to — and he or she picked it up whereas within the States over the Thanksgiving vacation. Nonetheless, she says, motherhood “modifications the entire dynamic of simply being ready, being in cost.”
After a full summer season within the WNBA, Parker thought-about sitting out the abroad marketing campaign fully or taking part in solely half a season as a strategy to recuperate and spend extra time along with her little one. I explored the potential for returning to China, the place the season is shorter than in Italy. However with Bologna, she says she has a great basketball prospect and an advantageous monetary provide. As well as, you haven’t been to the nation earlier than and heard constructive critiques in regards to the metropolis through which you’re presently settling.
Towards Praha, Parker was tasked with attempting to match the productions of the large stars Alyssa Thomas And Breonna Jones, who spend their WNBA seasons with the Czech nationwide group. Tyus, who has performed collegiately and professionally abroad, calls out “Lionheart” whereas Parker is launched to the viewers. He shouts pointers and encouragements from a bench close to the group bench all through the sport. Like Parker, he hopes her repertoire will proceed to evolve whereas she’s overseas — she is, in spite of everything, there to carry out for a group that aspires to be the most effective in Europe. Making a mark within the Euroleague was primarily one other draw.
As Parker entered motherhood, she obtained recommendation from her colleagues within the WNBA group. I talked extra with Candace Parker, a veteran All-Star and mom of two, provided knowledge on elevating a daughter, the snapback course of after childbirth and the significance of holding time with a new child. Till now, Cheyenne hasn’t been shy about capturing as many reminiscences as doable — in photographs and movies. She can be trying ahead to in the future telling Naomi in regards to the many locations she has already visited.
Parker mentioned all this on the night after her group’s 81-65 defeat by Braha. Together with Tyus, I am sitting on a bench within the weight room at Virtus’ coaching facility. Naomi is at residence resting with Bryant, who not solely helps with the cooking and cleanup round their Italian residence, but in addition imparts loads of recommendation her daughter won’t consider in any other case, like searching for meals earlier than they’re digested as a result of she’s breastfeeding. Naomi’s temporary break may additionally clarify Parker’s response when requested if there was something she needed so as to add about being a play mother or father.
“She’s simply the goat,” she says of her mom. “I could not have requested for a greater useful hand.”
Minutes later, Parker and Teus acquired into their white Mercedes to lastly make their approach residence. Their kids’s bedtime is just a few hours away.
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(Illustration: John Bradford / the athlete; Picture from left Cheyenne ParkerNaomi Teuss and Verna Bryant: Courtesy of Virtus Segafredo Bologna)