Shaler grad McQuade re-signs with Chemnitz ChemCats
Valerie McQuade's decision to re-sign with the Chemnitz ChemCats in early June was more well-informed than when she signed her first contract.
When McQuade, a Shaler graduate, signed her first professional contract with the German team last year, she had never been to Europe. Two days after McQuade signed, she was in Chemnitz, Germany, a city in the eastern part of the country with a population of nearly a quarter million.
“I was a little bit nervous. I didn't know what to expect,” said McQuade, who played collegiately at Niagara (N.Y.). “I knew I was there for a job and to play basketball. I was excited about that.”
Having two American teammates — Maegan Conwright and Merritt Hempe, who played for Florida State and Georgia, respectively — vouch for the team helped McQuade settle in. McQuade found out about the team after attending a combine during the NCAA Women's Final Four in 2016.
After the tryout, McQuade landed an agent and an offer for the ChemCats. Once she started playing, McQuade averaged 8.2 points, good for fourth on the team.
The ChemCats finished eighth in the Damen Basketball Bundesliga before being swept by top seed Wasserburg.
“The thing that took me the longest was the physicality of the game,” McQuade said. “Definitely, banging around inside and a lot of that physicality, and the shot clock is at 24 seconds so it's quicker. The 3-point line is back a little bit further. As soon as I got there, that was one of the first things I was working on. I was used to the college arc.”
McQuade, a 6-foot forward, had range in college. She once made six 3-pointers in a game against Cleveland State and ranks fourth all-time in Niagara history with a 39.9 3-point percentage.
It made for an interesting challenge, making changes on the court and off.
“It was awesome,” said McQuade, who averaged 3.6 rebounds for the ChemCats. “I had to adjust to the different rules, the scheme and language barrier.”
McQuade and her American teammates took a German language class once a week. She is comfortable with some basic phrases but still needed her teammates help to translate for her.
With a year of experience, McQuade hopes to demonstrate her advanced learning for professional basketball.
Even with the progress, there always will be some barriers to get used to. While McQuade's parents can watch her games, keeping contact can be challenging.
“There's a six-hour (time difference),” McQuade said. “They are six hours ahead. I keep in touch with my friends as much as possible. Me and my family will set aside to talk. It's a little bit difficult.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.