Erica Covile looks at the time, sees it is four in the morning, and decides it is about time to go to bed.
While it might seem like a late night for most people, it feels normal for Covile. She hasn’t quite adjusted to the seven-hour time difference between Romania and Philadelphia.
“I have been here for seven months and I still go to sleep every day at 4 a.m.,” she said.
The former Temple guard is in her rookie season playing professionally for Phoenix Galati, a professional basketball team based out of Romania.
Out of the 15 players on the roster, six are from the United States, eight are from Romania and one is from Australia.
One of the biggest differences culturally between the United States and Romania is how she is perceived because of her skin color. Ninety percent of the people in Romania are either Romanian or Hungarian.
“One thing that I see almost every day is everyone staring at the Black Americans,” Covile said. “They stare at us so hard that it feels like they’re burning a hole in us. Also, since our skin color is dark, they automatically think we are from Africa.”
Sometimes, to get a break from Galati, Covile and a teammate drive about three hours to Bucharest, Romania’s capital. While on the trip, Covile shops, visits the Therme Spa and relaxes in the city, which she said has aspects of American life.
Phoenix Galati is 10-11 this season. Covile has played in all 21 games.
The skills Covile picked up at Temple have helped her contribute to the team and establish herself as an elite player. Covile leads the team in rebounds and steals, with 9.6 and two per game, respectively.
“She is a little bit ‘all-around’ type of player,” coach Eugenio Manuel Ferreira Rodrigues said. “Defense, rebounding and scoring have been her biggest and strongest weapons which is exactly what we expected from her.”
Covile ranks second on the team in scoring, adding an average of 15 points per game, just behind former Houston Baptist University forward Shanice Steenholdt’s 17.4 points per game. Covile’s stats don’t come as much of a surprise to Rodrigues, as the guard set records in her four years at Temple.
In her senior season, Covile became the fourth Owl to reach 1,000 points, 750 rebounds and 150 steals in her career.
“She’s definitely the most versatile player on the team and her style of play is fast, hard, yet smooth,” said Phoenix Galati guard Jeanette Jackson, who played at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. “She plays hard, she’s unstoppable, she shares the ball, she rebounds, she does it all.”
Covile is still adapting to the style of play in international basketball. The only physical difference is that a player must dribble the ball before taking their first step, but rules aren’t the only thing that determines how the game is played.
“Like all the Americans, she still needs to understand what’s Europe all about, our civilizational differences and of course, the different type of basketball that is played here,” Rodrigues said. “Once she’s got it, she will be totally adapted to play in Europe.”
Despite some adjustment to the new culture, Covile enjoys Romania and is excited that she can play her favorite sport as her job. However, there are things she misses about the United States, particularly her Temple team.
“I miss playing and competing with my sisters, and I most definitely miss playing for coach [Tonya] Cardoza,” Covile said. “The coaches that I had for the last four years molded me into the player [and] person I am today and I’m forever grateful for that.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CaptainAMAURAca.