By Madisen Carter
Professional basketball player, Mikayla Cowling, has been playing basketball since she was just four years old. She comes from a family of athletes and fell in love with the game through them. She has an impressive resume as she has played basketball all four years and graduated from California State University, Berkeley in 2018, was drafted 33rd overall in the 2018 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun, and then took her talents overseas in Greece and France. Cowling is currently in her fourth year overseas and now plays for Edremit Belediyesi Gürespor in Edremit, Turkey.
Cowling has been having an outstanding season as the starting forward for Edremit. She is currently averaging 20.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. She even has played 14 games this season scoring over 20 points and had a season high 36-point game on November 11th against Urla.
“I came here with the vision of being my best self and showing up every day at every game producing and having the best percentages I could and just leaving it all on the court type of thing,” Cowling said. “This year [is] actually my highest [in] my scoring, my rebounding and everything, so I'm very proud of that.”
Cowling is having a great experience while being in Turkey. She said the area is beautiful with pretty skies and the level of basketball is so high which makes the competition experience good as well. Although the language barrier is difficult, Cowling has been able to successfully play with her teammates. Some of her teammates speak English as well as her coach which has made it easier, and she said overall she has been smooth sailing.
“Basketball is universal,” Cowling said. “If you can play, you can play. So it's nice to be able to just point and know how to adjust to things. I mean you kind of get used to body language and expressing things without having to speak, and it's difficult, but it's part of the human process, you know.”
Although there are many differences between playing basketball in America versus overseas, Cowling said she has been able to take things she has learned from home and apply it in the new countries she has played in. The most significant thing she has taken was the maturity level of the game, being competitive and making sure she is always ready to go.
“The longer you invest yourself in those moments of, ‘Okay, I'm going to get better today,’ and not letting your mind drift off and [think,] ‘I'll do it tomorrow, I'll do it later.’ Staying on top of those things and just being smart about [my] growth as a basketball player I think [has] helped me out here a lot,” Cowling said.
With four years of experience playing ball overseas, Cowling said her biggest piece of advice for the younger generations who have goals of playing professional basketball in a different country is to find what grounds you. She said to focus on finding that whether that is in your friends, family or maybe even a different hobby outside of basketball.
“Find whatever grounds you and sparks waking up in the morning, feeling happy and feeling peace, whatever that is, make sure you sustain that throughout,” Cowling said. “Whatever journey you take, wherever you go…. Make sure that's a part of your daily routine because if you go away from that and you kind of shift your focus on ‘Okay, I'm here for other people or I'm here to make people happy,’ you start losing the parts of yourself, and that makes the process harder and more strenuous on you. So whatever grounds you make sure that that's the key to whatever you're focusing on.”
There is about one month left of the season for Cowling as it is now playoff time. Edremit currently sits in 5th place in the TKBL standings with a 21-9 record. For her preparation for playoffs, Cowling said her main focus is to make sure her body is ready to go as she is making sure she is eating better and getting more rest.
On April 13th the team played Yalova Vip in the first round of the quarter-finals and lost 77-74, and the teams will play each other again on Saturday in the second round of the quarter-finals. Until then, Cowling and the rest of the team will be practicing and preparing in hopes for a win to keep their playoff run going. UPB wishes Cowling and her team good luck!