“Every time I wear a jersey of the national team of Finland, it gives me an amazing feeling because not everyone is able to know how it feels.” Those were the words I remembered the most when I talked with the Finnish basketball player Lotta Vehka-Aho. Lotta is a basketball international, and knows what it is to be a champion. She improves her skills every year, and her team Kotka Peli-Karhut must be very grateful to have a player like Lotta in the team!
Reach her limits to be a much better player
When Lotta was seven years old, she moved with her family to a different city in Finland. That is the place where it all started. “My sister started playing basketball back then, and she invited me to play along with older players,” Lotta says. “From that moment, basketball has always been close to me and a part of my life. Dealing with injuries have been challenging but dealing with them has grown me as a person & given me different perspectives of basketball and life in general. They are part of being an athlete. You have to adapt but of course it’s nicer to be on the court.
I love to compete and have fun with my teammates. That is the main reason why basketball is my biggest passion. That is also because it gives me I certain kind of satisfaction, when I can reach my limits to be a much better player. It is amazing to see the result of all the efforts I put in the game.”
There are different people who inspires Lotta. One of them is of course her sister Emmi, who used to play basketball as well. “Emmi shot the ball more than I do, while I was more like a point guard when I was younger. We played together until I was 17 years old, but I think that is the biggest difference between our style of playing basketball. As a player, I really looked up at Alina Iagupova from Ukraine. She is one of the players I love to see on the court! Of course Steph Curry is my all-time favorite player. The way he goes up for the threepointers, it’s like a machine!”
“It is meant to be”
As said; from her hometown Ähtäri, Lotta moved to another place called Vimpeli. “Vimpeli is pretty small place, but from there I gained a lot of experience and responsibility on the court, especially with my aged team + the women’s first league team. It felt so save to play, like it is meant to be. From Vimpeli I moved to Helsinki for my senior year. The summer before I left to states was great. We practiced with the national team about three months before European Championships. I can also remember one practice when I became older, just before the European Championships. It was that kind of practice that every shot we took went in. During the game we went down by a couple of points. I received the ball, and I took the shot from half court. It went straight in, and that gave me a lot of satisfaction! That summer was very good for me.”
Playing in the highest league of Finland
It didn’t take long before Lotta would face a big challenge. She would play in the highest league of Finland. “When I was younger, and played in Vimpeli, I played with some American players. We played in the first league of Finland. When I was playing in the women’s first league I was nervous in the beginning but when I got more experience it made it easier to play. It was a big challenge, but I went for it with eagerness to learn more and to become better basketball player. All those years in my home town, playing in the women’s first league + playing in my own team (high school team) gave me a lot of experience and good foundation for my career. Last year before I went to USA I attended HBA (Helsinki Basketball Academy) for my senior year. I played with HBA (high school team) for one year on the same first league I used to play with my home town team in Vimpeli.”
A very special moment, winning the championship
After playing in Florida, Lotta decided to come home to Finland. From there, she started practicing with the national team and with the team she is playing for right now: Kotka Peli-Karhut. “Kotka is a place with about 52.000 inhabitants. It is quite challenging to get used to play as a professional, but at the same time I am very happy with the decision I made to play in the highest league of Finland. This is the place I need to be now. Last year was the sixth championship. We had a deep bench and a very experienced team. Kotka is a basketball city where everyone breaths basketball. It’s beautiful, and I love it!”
By winning the finals of the national play-offs with 82-88 against Kouvottaret, Kotka won the championship again. Lotta had 22 points during that game, and that proves that she is very talented, skilled and motivated through the bone. That is the main reason she always improves herself and that she knows how it feels to be a champion! “Last year was my first year professionally. I had some adversity in the beginning with injury but as the season kept going, everything became more familiar and fun! I really enjoyed playing basketball. It was great to learn from older players too. Those two things were super important to me through out last year!”
She is always focused, and such an inspiration!