Former Panthers star Hannah Schaible played professional basketball in Denmark, for SISU Copenhagen of the Dameligaen league, this past season.
For most of Hannah Schaible’s basketball career, she stepped onto the hardwood not seeking to be the top-scorer in a given game but rather to do whatever she could — “all the extra things,” she said — to help her team win.
She was usually not the first scoring option, and during her collegiate career at George Washington University, she was the third-leading scorer for the Colonials in three out of four seasons. Schaible always has played strong defense and had a knack for rebounding, and in the program’s all-time record books, she is 14th in career rebounds with 722.
With that said, when the Dr. Phillips High alumna suited up last season for SISU Copenhagen — a professional women’s basketball team in Denmark’s Dameligaen league — her role was different.
It had to be.
As an American player on a professional team overseas, there are expectations.
“American players have a focus to be the star performer — you’re getting the ball and plays are called for you,” Schaible said. “It was a completely different role for me. I’m not a player who can just knock down 80 three-pointers in a season.”
It may not have been her comfort zone as a basketball player, but Schaible managed just fine in her first season of international professional basketball. The former Panther was fourth in the league in scoring at 17.9 points per game and was named the Dameligaen’s Player of the Week in early March, near the end of the regular season.
The season spent in Denmark was the culmination of a lifelong dream for Schaible that almost didn’t come to fruition. When her collegiate career at George Washington came to a close following the 2016-17 season, doors with opportunities to play professionally — domestically or internationally — weren’t opening.
Working part-time at a gym, she almost had resigned herself to moving on when a call came last December. SISU had lost two players, and thanks to a good word from her coach at GWU, Schaible was offered a chance to chase her dream.
“I thought to myself, ‘Maybe this won’t happen for me’ — which was disappointing,” Schaible recalled. “I got a call one day at work, and my college coach is like, ‘Do you still want to play?’ and I said ‘Yes, absolutely.’ Two days later, I was on a plane.”
“I got a call one day at work, and my college coach is like, ‘Do you still want to play?’ and I said ‘Yes, absolutely.’ Two days later, I was on a plane.”
Schaible had traveled overseas to visit but had never been to Denmark. Reflecting back, she said she was lucky to have ended up in a country where a lot of people speak English — it is taught in the schools — and that she played for a team located in a major urban center; SISU is based out of Copenhagen.
As she soaked in the experience of living abroad, she had to get used to a different style of play, too. While the game in Dameligaen was slower than what she was used to in college, there were little nuances that required some adjustment — such as the point guards defending their counterpart full-court.
Of course, Schaible wasn’t even a point guard in college, but it was another wrinkle associated with being one of the Americans on the team.
“That was usually me on defense, and I was so tired,” Schaible said. “I wasn’t in game-shape, so I was tired and I kept surprising myself.”
SISU placed fourth in the Dameligaen last season. It was Schaible’s first season of professional basketball — and for now at least, her last. The Dr. Phillips alumna is preparing for a wedding in September and hopes to start a business in Texas with her fiancé, John Sorenson. For her, playing professionally overseas was less an endgame than it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
“There were a lot of nights of, ‘I should have done this or that better,’” she says. “But the fact that I was able to play, I was just so thankful and it validates the work that I put in.”
And in addition to the experiences associated with living in Denmark, she also has one highly memorable game to hang her hat on — in the second-to-last game of the regular season, Schaible scored 36 points — and some stories to tell.
“That’s the highest (number of points) I’ve ever scored in one game — I think I scored 18 in the first quarter, which is really fun,” Schaible said. “My fiancé and I were watching the Rockets play (recently), and (James) Harden scored 34, and I joked, ‘I scored 36 — I’m better than Harden.’”