by Madalyn Johnson, Web Editor
Christina Katsamouri is playing an important role for the Lady Jaspers in her sophomore year after arriving in Riverdale from Thessaloniki, Greece. By choosing basketball, Katsamouri has followed in the footsteps of her mother, Katrina Petachti, who is a former professional basketball player. Katsamouri scored her first basket against Siena on January 16, 2020 in a season in which she saw limited playing time. Even though the pandemic has carried over from last season, that hasn’t stopped Katsamouri from taking her game to a new level this season. In helping lead the Jaspers to the five seed in next week’s MAAC Tournament, Katsamouri notched two 14-point scoring performances this season which represents a career-high.
The Quadrangle : When did you start playing and when do you first realize you wanted to become a Division One basketball player one day?
Christina Katsamouri: My mom was a professional basketball player so I’ve been in the gym since I was born, so I grew up with a basketball. My experience started when I was eight years old and I was playing in a club because in Greece we don’t necessarily have school teams. I was going to one of them and I just started liking it a lot. I saw that I was good at it, and it probably was the family gene because my mom was playing and my sister started with me and my brother. So it was a family thing.
When I was 16 years old, I entered this huge team. It was like Division One in my country, I was playing professionally with foreign players that were coming from the United States that had graduated. Then I got invited into the Greek national team for under 16, following that I was in the under 18, and then under 20. I participated in the European Championship and we got third place. It was always a challenge for me because I was always playing with older and more experienced women.
When the opportunity for me to come to the U.S. came, I knew one-hundred percent that that was for me, because that has been my life since I was born so that was just one more opportunity for me to explore my abilities in basketball a little more. It was even bigger because I would get a scholarship. I would be able to study at the same time for free and then the level of basketball here is so much higher.
TQ: How different has your freshman year been compared to your sophomore year even as COVID-19 has carried over from one season to the next?
CK: There is a big difference because it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to play this weekend or next, and that you’re going to play all the teams in your conference because you don’t know if one team is gonna go into quarantine. I was just talking about how you just don’t know what is going to be your next game, but we were lucky with that because we did not really go into quarantine. We did last week, but that was towards the end of the season so it didn’t really affect us.
Without the fans, obviously, we don’t really have the same energy to our games that helped a lot. I know that people say, “no you just play because you love it,” but it’s also the energy you get from people and that’s a big difference.
TQ: How have you managed to focus on your academics and your basketball career?
CK: This year is easier because, honestly, in order for us to have a season, we had to do some sacrifices. That means that I’m not going to go out as much because I’m just trying to stay as safe as possible. So, the team is safe as well and we can play. That made it easier for me to focus on my schoolwork, because my schedule has been the same from the day when I got back. I wake up in the morning, I do my classes and then I go to practice and come back. On the weekends, I have more free time to spend on my work and focus on what I want to do with my school and see other opportunities that I can do through my laptop. It’s my first time in New York, so I was more excited to see what it is. This year I was fortunate to have a schedule that allowed me to focus on both basketball and academics.
TQ: What would you say have been your favorite moments and achievements since joining the team?
CK: I would say this year that we got the first pick to win the MAAC, so that was a pretty big challenge for us to focus on.
TQ: Finally, what has kept you motivated to continue your basketball career in the U.S.
amidst a pandemic?
CK: The fact that it is a challenge for me and that I’m not afraid to go outside of my comfort zone, I love exploring new things. I feel blessed to be honest, me being in New York, studying for free, being able to play with the team in this great program where they take care of me. Knowing that my family wants me to succeed, further motivates me and I know COVID has been very hard but other people don’t even have the chance to go outside, go to the gym, go and travel to see another team. I know it’s overwhelming, but at the end of the day, I really feel like I’m very blessed.