Go Away With … Jessica Breland

Chicago Sky Media Day

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
February 23, 2016

Born in New York and raised in North Carolina, where she played basketball for the Tar Heels, Jessica Breland has overcome so much to get to where she is today. The summer before her senior year of college, Breland was excited thinking about all the places she wanted to visit before school started.

Instead, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and spent the next half-year undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Now 28 and healthy, the 6-foot-3 forward is playing with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. During her team’s off-season, she enjoys playing overseas (China, Turkey, Israel, South Korea).

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. I’ve learned that, as Americans, we are really blessed with freedom and the opportunity to enjoy a great quality of life. All cultures are different and it is always great to experience something new, but there really is no place like home.

Q. What were some of the challenges of playing overseas?

A. One of them is being away from my friends and family for an extended period of time. Also, language barriers and cultural differences sometimes make communicating with my teammates and coaches more challenging. I have translators, which made communicating with my teams easier, but it was very different from being able to speak directly with someone in English.

Q. How is women’s basketball received in the countries that you’ve played vs. in the U.S.?

A. I’ve had the opportunity to play professionally in Turkey, Israel and South Korea. Women’s basketball is generally well received with more support in all of these countries versus the United States. I was surprised.

Q. Do you speak any foreign languages?

A. No, unfortunately! I’m not great with languages.

Q. Of the places you’ve played overseas, which stands out?

A. They were all great. I wish I had more time to sightsee while I was there. When I was in Korea, it was so fun shopping in Myeong-dong and Insadong and seeing Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Q. Are you an adventurous eater?

A. Initially, I do not handle the food abroad very well. It takes me a while to adjust. I am not really an adventurous eater. I love chicken, so I tend to stick to that and other foods that I am comfortable with when I travel abroad.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Most of my travel has been basketball related. However, I have had the opportunity to play in several vacation destinations, such as the Bahamas, Hawaii, Brazil, London and Switzerland.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child? And did you love it … or not so much?

A. I remember taking an elementary school field trip to the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia and I really enjoyed it.

Q. If you’ve ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?

A. I spent Thanksgiving in Hawaii with my teammates when I was in college and I really enjoyed the experience.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. The Grand Hyatt. In New York, I like to stay at the Hyatt in Times Square. Intercontinental is another one of my favorites.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. My five favorite cities are: Chicago, New York, Seattle, London and Tel Aviv.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Bora Bora! I have seen pictures of resorts there and it looks really beautiful.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I have to bring along my Xbox, other devices like my MacBook, iPhone, iPad; Aveeno products and cocoa butter lotion.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. I love Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. I actually don’t do a lot of research before traveling. I usually just check the weather and look at some points of interest. I’m pretty spontaneous and don’t do a lot of planning.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM


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