Digna Strautmane is a basketball player and international from Latvia. She currently plays basketball in the US at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and before that she played four years for Syracuse University. At Syracuse she got her bachelor's degree and her master’s degree in Sport Management & Event. Digna has reached so much since the beginning of her basketball career, and she will let other players and clubs shine the way she shines on and outside of the basketball court!
Everything at once
The 23 year old Digna started playing basketball at a pretty young age. After dancing she knew what kind of sport she wanted to do. “I started playing basketball when I was seven years old,” Digna says. “My neighbours were playing basketball back then, and they suggested me to do it as well.”
Digna is a player with a lot of abilities and specialties. That makes her so talented and amazing! “As the years passed by, I went much taller. That is the reason I have been playing at the center position in Latvia and for the national (youth) team. I could also shoot from outside, but that was not my main focus on the court back then. At Syracuse, I developed my outside shot a little more. The coach have had always faith in my three-point shot. Right now, my main focus is to be a more dominant player in the post, and a pretty good sharpshooter either. I am doing my best to be as good in everything I can.”
One of her former specialties: rebounding
At the youth national teams, Digna showed that she is a powerful player in many ways. She often had an average of a double-double (10 points or more and 10 rebounds/assists/ or blocks). “At some point in my life I kind of lost my rebounding skills. When I was younger, my height helped me to grab a lot of boards. Right now, I am working on getting more rebounds, something I used to be good at. What always helps is putting the best effort in everything, like being a great hustler. So I think that would help me to be a good rebounder again.”
Her talented sister Paula
Also Digna’s sister Paula have played basketball since she was young. How much do they differ from each other? “Paula and I have a very different style of playing basketball. She is like a very hard working player on the court. A lot of scouts think that the most valuable thing in basketball is the scoring part. Of course, if you score the most points, you will win the game. That sounds pretty easy, but basketball isn’t that easy as it seems. Paula is one of the best player because of her hustle. Her energy and effort make the team play really good; passing to an open player, fighting for every possession and being a tight defender. Together we played really good on the court. She is a big inspiration to me, just because of that.”
It wouldn’t take long to see Digna and Paula playing and practicing together. “I started pretty early with playing basketball. All of my teammates were always older than me at the beginning. My sister didn’t play yet, and she always picked me up after practice. She saw that me and my teammates had so much fun during practice, so she wanted to play basketball to. To be honest, during my first year of basketball, I thought I couldn’t do anything right. When my age group (born around 1998) started to play in my team, I felt like I was getting better in everything. I was making a lot of friends and connections.”
Basketball in Latvia
What is basketball in Latvia about? Digna is pretty sure that everyone who wants to be better are getting better if they would give everything. “Basketball is a big sport in Latvia. A lot of people don’t know that a lot of basketball players come from Latvia. Everyone put their effort in it. Not everybody thinks that they can get somewhere with basketball, but I think that a lot of players can with a certain kind of persuasion. The coaches of the very young players are really good. They teach them a lot of important fundamentals, which are necessary to reach a much higher level.”
Playing for the national team
At the age of 13, Digna already played for the national under 16 team of Latvia! That is not something you see pretty often; a player at such age who play for the national team. “Back then I thought the girls would be much better than me. My height and effort helped me a lot to get a spot in the team, and the coach had a lot of faith in me. In 2012 we won the bronze medal in the B-division of the European Championship. Our main goal was to reach the A-division. By winning the bronze medal, we made it to that kind of level. With a lot of the national youth teams I played at, we often made it to the A-division. That feels great at some point, because now I think almost every team is playing in the A-division.
I was more used to the girls I always played with in the national team. We practiced very hard every year, and we were going all round Europe, so that kind of experience made me a stronger player. There was no ‘I’ in the team, and we really played an amazing style of basketball as a team.”
Digna developed her style of playing a lot. She will make a lot more progression every season, wherever she is going to play!