Erika Mäkelä brings so much energy on the court

Gepubliceerd op 17 mei 2023 om 08:30

Her quickness, agility and shooting skills makes the 21-year-old Finnish basketball player Erika Mäkelä really talented. She knows how it feels to win a championship, which she became at Kotka Peli-Karhut, who have recently won the championship again. She is currently studying Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Twente. She contacted Jolly Jumpers in Tubbergen to play there during season 2021-2022, and right now she is playing at Uitsmijters in Almelo. Photo taken by Ville Vuorinen

A great beginning at Kotka Peli-Karhut

Erika was not the only one of the family who have played basketball. Her dad was a professional basketball player, and started coaching later. “He stopped playing before I started playing basketball,” Erika remembers. “I recently watched a basketball game of him on tape. Of course I can’t compare his style of playing basketball with mine, but I know he was always a shooter, which I am too.”

Erika took her chance to get better and better. By practicing a lot, she accomplished a lot now-a-days. “We had quite a lot of practice, and during high school I always visited practices in the morning and in the evening. Starting at an early age and practicing a lot made me stronger, and helped me a lot. My club Kotka Peli-Karhut was a great place to start! They have great youth teams and coaches!”

Playing in the highest women competition at young age

Just before Erika went to Pennington, she played basketball in the highest women’s league of Finland. With Kotka she made amazing memories. “I played three seasons with the women’s team of Kotka, and we won the championship twice. It was really cool, especially when you are pretty young. Sometimes it was tough, but it was a really great experience!”

On her way to Pennington

In 2018, Erika went to the United States. She wanted to know how it is to play basketball over there. “I lived in the US for one year when I was 10 years old. I liked to US a lot, and I wanted to go back over there someday. I found an organization in Finland that helped me find a school in the US, that allows me to combine school and basketball. The school they found for me was The Pennington School in New Jersey. The season is a bit shorter there, but we ended up winning the New Jersey prep A state championship. It was overall an unforgettable season. It was probably the greatest year of my live!”

Going to The Netherlands

In 2019, Erika decided to go back to Kotka, but couldn’t finish the season because of covid-19. During the year 2020-2021 she applied to the university of Twente. When she got the confirmation that she has been accepted, she contacted Jolly since it seemed like a great place to play at. “I really like to go abroad and see new places,” Erika says. “It was nice (and better for me) to live a bit closer to Finland, so I chose The Netherlands to study Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Twente. My sister used to study in Groningen, and she had really good experiences in The Netherlands. It seemed like a good option, and it still does! Jolly Jumpers was a great organization to play. Though I didn’t play that much, I learned a lot of my teammates. I am happy that I got the chance to play there. Still, you want to get better, and you will be better if you get more minutes. That’s why I went to Uitsmijters Almelo, who got promoted from the Eerste Divisie to the Promotiedivisie.”

Getting better and better

Erika has proven that so is an amazing talented player. Her current team, Uitsmijters Almelo, is very lucky to have a skilled player like Erika. “When I first came in The Netherlands, I didn’t know anything of Almelo. I read a Facebook post about the team of Almelo, and I contacted them to get the chance to be better. Besides, Almelo is more nearby the university than Tubbergen, so it was a better option for me. There were ups and downs on my own playing, but overall I am happy to come to Almelo. Everyone is so nice, and everything worked out really well. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach the Final Four of the Promotiedivisie, but I am very sure that we can make some progression next year!”

Her shot is amazing, just like her passing skills and her quickness. Erika could be a player that everyone wants in the team, that could be really possible! Photo taken by Herman Zandhuis

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