By Jeffrey Swindoll
Freshman guard Kristy Wallace has been on a wild ride in her transition from high school to college. Many students stay in the same state for college. Some live just two hours down the road from the university they attend and even they start to miss home.
Wallace, on the other hand, moved to the other end of the world in order to pursue her dream. On top of learning a new culture, Wallace was forced to learn an entirely different brand of basketball at a level she had never competed in ever before.
Where exactly is home for you?
I’m from Australia. The state I live in is Queensland, and [the city I live in] is Brisbane, which is kind of like Waco in comparison.
What do you like most about Australia?
I think it’s just a complete different culture [between the U.S. and Australia]. There are a lot of similarities between Australia and America, but there are also a few differences. At the moment, I’m just missing the food from back home. I miss [Australian delicacies like] Vegemite, Tim Tams, Lamingtons, meat pies … that is, if you know what any of those are.
Did you try bringing any food over when you moved?
I did. I definitely tried smuggling some of those over, but my parents do send me some food every now and then.
Has it always been a dream for you to play in America?
Definitely. I think getting an education and playing for some of the best and playing against some of the best players in the world is definitely special.
When did you decide on Baylor?
I didn’t know until the last minute really. I was getting recruited by a few colleges and I basically left it to the last minute to decide where I wanted to go. So, I came here in August and have been loving it ever since.
Was it hard to convince your family about moving all the way to Texas to play college basketball?
Not really. My family kind of encouraged it, especially my dad. He just wants what I want. I told him I wanted to go to America to study and play basketball, and he did everything he could to make that happen. I do miss my family, but they’re happy I’m here.
What are the biggest differences and similarities you see between Australia and what you’ve seen from Waco?
Again, the food’s different. But I feel like Waco is a real community area. Everyone sort of knows each other, and they’re really supportive. So, I really like that about here.
Out of curiosity, do Australian club teams and schools sing the Australian national anthems before all of their sporting events, or is that more of an American custom?
Usually we do, but I feel like it’s more patriotic over here when you guys sing it. Back home we sing it a little bit. We don’t have our hand over our heart like you guys do. It’s just a little more relaxed.
You said you came here in August. Was that your first time in the United States?
I’ve been here earlier for my visits, but that was really only like a two-week window that I got to see five colleges, so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, especially at Baylor. Baylor was my shortest visit of them all. I enjoyed my time and I just had to base my gut feeling on which college I wanted.
Are there any differences in style of basketball that you seen between the United States and Australia?
They are a lot different. We have a 24-second shot clock back home, which is a little bit different, a little bit quicker. The athleticism here, there’s definitely a lot more talent in that sort of area. I think adjusting to that sort of play is different and it took me a little while.
Regarding the process of fitting in with the team, what was that experience like? Was that difficult at first?
Not really. I think they all welcomed me into the team really well as soon as I got here. I consider every one of these girls as my sister. We all get along really well and they treat me great.
Did you expect to be playing this much just into your first year with the team?
Probably not. I didn’t expect to play this much. I think it’s a real privilege and a good opportunity to show what I’ve got and make as much contribution to the team as I possibly can. I’m really thankful for that and looking forward to the few years to come.
Was the Big 12 championship something you expected this year?
No, definitely not. I don’t think anyone did.
Have you learned anything from your teammates?
Yeah, I’ve learned a lot. Just in different situations, how to handle what we’re going through at that time. Each of these players have really helped me get through difficult times. Being homesick is another thing. They’ve really helped get past that.
Have you ever met anyone quite like Kim Mulkey? What’s that relationship like?
*chuckles* I mean, it’s a different relationship. I think that she pushes us so hard, and expects so much of us that I think sometimes it’s frustrating for some of us that we can’t meet those expectations. But I think it makes us better people and better players as well.
Do any of your teammates do “fake Australian accents”?
*chuckles* A few of them do.
Who’s got the best one?
I think Edsel [Hamilton] is the best. He’s one of our assistant coaches. Everyone is pretty terrible though.
Are you glad you chose to be a Lady Bear?
Definitely. Very glad of my decision.