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Interview: Robyn Parks talks stamps in her passport, workouts in Angola and commemorating her grandmother

The Chicago Sky wing, who is playing for Famila Basket Schio in the EuroLeague, opens up about her basketball journey.

Chicago Sky v Connecticut Sun
Robyn Parks arriving to a WNBA game in September 2023 while playing for the Chicago Sky.
Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Robyn Parks knows a thing or two about traveling. She’s played professional basketball on three continents and in countries as various as Angola, Mexico and Poland. It was only this season, as a 30-year-old, that she made her WNBA debut.

We caught up with her to chat about her winding and wide-ranging basketball journey.

Last time you talked to our Zachary Draves, you guys talked mostly about the WNBA. I would like to ask you about all the stops along the way and what they taught you. You have spent most of your career in Spain. Was it because of the salaries, the possibilities for growth, the facilities... or the climate?

I spent majority of my overseas career in Spain because that’s just where my agent at the time kept offering me to teams. He was Spanish, so he had a lot of connections in Spain. I wish I could say it was because of the salaries, but I never made any crazy money in Spain. The weather was definitely a positive thing about playing there though!

Where there other positives involved, like the food? Which cuisine was most memorable for you and why? I’m guessing being a pro athlete and keeping a diet must be hard in Italy. What about other places?

The food was good. My most memorable cuisine would have to be the fruit in Angola. It was always so sweet and so fresh, nothing like I’ve ever had anywhere else. But overall, I enjoyed all the food there. For me, it’s really not that difficult to keep a strict diet. Here in Italy everything is fresh and well prepared, so I eat good every day.

With the passport tatted on your left shoulder, you seem to truly embrace your journey to the WNBA. Which stamp in your passport would you consider most curious?

I’m not sure if i understand what you mean by “curious.” But if you’re asking which stamp means the most to me, I would have to say Italy, for obvious reasons. Italy is where I feel my career truly started to take off and I got to showcase the type of player I am. If you’re asking which stamp was the most unforgettable, I would say Egypt, but not for positive reasons…

Speaking of which, apart from Egypt, you’ve also played in Angola. Africa hasn’t been associated with pro-ball leagues—as opposed to pro-ball-level players—so can you share with us your experiences there?

I’ll speak about my experience in Angola. I don’t like speaking on my experience in Egypt because I can’t be honest about it without offending some people over there. My experience in Angola was definitely one of a kind, both on and off the court. On the court, the girls there aren’t as skilled as “professional players,” but their work ethic is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Every morning our first practice would start at 7 a.m. This took me a while to adjust to. Usually in Europe, morning practices are for lifting and getting good quality shots up. But in Angola, we were running sprints, running on the track some mornings and playing 5-on-5 basketball that early in the morning. The two-a-day practices were very intense—both of them. But you never see the players complaining. They come in the gym every morning with smiles on their faces ready to practice. That made me admire them a lot! And I also made good money while being out there so I wasn’t complaining either.

Coming back to your ink, can you tell us more about your late Grandmother and her influence on your life and career?

My grandma and I were very close! She loved telling all of her friends at church that she had a granddaughter that played professional basketball. I know if she was alive when I made it to the WNBA she would have been the happiest woman on the planet. I have her tattooed on my leg so I can take her with me wherever I go. Sometimes I just sit and look at her portrait on my leg and I start talking to her as if she’s still here physically. Losing her was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life thus far, but it makes me happy to know that I’m still down here making her so proud. I know she’s in heaven smiling down on me.

Chicago Sky v Washington Mystics
Parks considers herself a scorer rather than a shooter
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

What parts of your game are you working on this season? Last season with the Chicago Sky, a lot was made about your 3-point shooting. Are you still perfecting it or developing new stuff?

I’m always trying to develop new things within my game. I don’t want to be labeled as just a shooter because I know I’m so much more than that . I’m glad people respect my ability to shoot, but I consider myself more as a scorer than a shooter. So every day I work on different ways to score, whether it’s shooting or driving to the basket or playing in the low post, etc. I’ve also been more focused on my defense as of lately. A lot of people/fans only care about points. But there has to be people on the court that will stop the other team from scoring too, no? So every game and every practice I try to be better defensively.

Will we see you in the W next season?

Right now, I’m not too sure what my future will look like in the W, but I would like to be there. But for now, I have to focus on my current European season and worry about everything else after.

A special thank you to Jorge Mendez of PRODEP for arranging the interview.