By Madisen Carter
Sara Anastasieska has been playing basketball since she was in sixth grade. In her Kindergarten through sixth grade school in Australia, the boy’s basketball team was short a few players, and as the tallest student in her grade, she was offered to play on the team. She soon realized she enjoyed the game and continued to play through representative (club) basketball, to high school basketball, to Australia's National Team, and continued throughout college in the United States.
Anastasieska heard of college basketball through the older girls at her high school. They were traveling to the states to play college basketball, and Anastasieska thought it would be fun to play college basketball too in America. Anastasieska got introduced to a recruiter that got her connected with some colleges in the United States and those colleges came to Australia to watch her play. Anastasieska was also on Australia’s School team, allowing her to travel to the states to play against high schools in the US, and she was able to get more looks from Universities that way as well.
Starting off at the University of Texas, San Antonio, Anastasieska also went on to play basketball at the University of California, Berkeley, along with Duke University. She completed her final season of collegiate basketball at the University of Illinois and graduated in December of 2022 with a Masters degree. Anastasieska finished her college career with a total of 545 points, 143 rebounds, 116 assists and 52 steals.
Now that she has graduated, Anastasieska is back in the Bay Area and is now a part-time Player Development Coach at the Unlimited Potential Basketball Training Facility. Anastasieska has been familiar with the facility as she has trained with Coach Packie Turner since she played basketball at Cal. She said since she has known Packie for a while now, and also knew previous player development coaches at the facility, she wanted to be a part of the organization and the tight knit community that it has.
Anastasieska knew working on the coaching side of basketball was in her future when she was on the Cal women’s basketball team. During the end of her redshirt season with the team, Anastasieska suffered a back injury and took the next three seasons to rehab and spend time on the bench working alongside the coaches and giving feedback from a new perspective. She also realized that with her injuries that she would not be able to play overseas professionally and that she needed to look towards another passion.
“I think like with the injury [and] being able to see things from the other side gave me that drive and passion to help people out and get people better,” Anastasieska said. “I think during that time, I was helping people and I got a little bit of [coaching] experience then.”
Anastasieska also gained some coaching experience during the last few months of her time at Illinois as she trained her old teammates and put them through workouts. Now at UPB, Anastasieska will be involved with the group training along with private training. Anastasieska said her main goal is for her clients to be open minded about getting better in their game.
“I think for me, [I want clients to know] there's always a chance to get better… There's always that one little step that you can [do to] improve and there's always something new for you to improve [on,]” Anastasieska said.
Anastasieska’s first day at UPB is on Thursday, and she said she is most excited about meeting new people and being able to work with people at all different skill levels. Anastasieska’s career aspiration is to become a college basketball coach, and she believes working as a player development coach at UPB will help her towards that goal. We are so happy to have her on the UPB team and we are excited to be a part of her basketball journey!
Smith has been with UPB for a few weeks now and is helping with group training and private training. He said he has enjoyed seeing the variety of different athletes that come into the gym from division I college basketball players all the way down to three year olds. He said group training has been his favorite part so far, being able to interact with a lot of different athletes and helping them improve throughout the sessions.