French adventure

Mesa's Sigl signs pro contract to play basketball in France

Kelsey Sigl is going from All-American forward to the only American on the Al Alplemont Le Havre pro basketball team in France. The former Colorado Mesa forward will begin her pro career in September as a perimeter-oriented forward. To prepare for her new role, Sigl will spend the next month honing her outside shot and working on her ballhandling skills.

A tattoo on the inside of Kelsey Sigl’s right ring finger reads “Carpe diem.”

Sigl, the 6-foot All-America forward on Colorado Mesa University’s women’s basketball team, is certainly seizing the day, signing a contract to play professional basketball in France.

“Thinking back, it’s really kind of funny how it all worked out,” Sigl said Wednesday during a break from refereeing games at CMU’s basketball camp. “I was supposed to leave home to prepare myself to leave again.

“For three years I’ve pretty much been on my own. Now it’s a different country, a different culture and language, but I think it kind of gives me more courage to do this, to take this step for myself. Who knows if I’ll come back?”

After the season ended, Sigl said she wanted to explore playing in Europe.

Vera Jo Bustos, who played at Adams State University, then played in Greece for a year, helped Sigl find the Al Alplemont Le Havre basketball team. Now an assistant coach at Western State Colorado University, Bustos basically served as Sigl’s agent throughout the negotiations.

Le Havre will pay Sigl a salary, plus the use of a car, bicycle and a furnished flat “down by the beach,” she said. “They’re taking really good care of me.”

She will be the only American on the team by league rules. Coach Laurent Chamu told her he’s looking at her as a perimeter-oriented forward to take advantage of her 3-point shooting.

“He liked my game, and as we talked more and more, I liked his style of coaching. Honestly, anywhere I’m going to adjust to a coach’s style to play professional basketball,” Sigl said, laughing.

She’ll play more on the perimeter the next month in pickup games, do some ball-handling drills and plenty of shooting to prepare for the long pro season in Europe.

Le Havre is near Normandy Beach on the English Channel, roughly two hours from Paris and two hours across the channel from London.

Le Havre won the French League Group B championship last season. The season stretches from mid-September to late April, then another month of playoffs, playing only once a week.

“I don’t have anything else to do but play basketball,” she said. “How nice is that?”

She’ll spend her free time exploring France and neighboring countries, adding plenty of stamps in her passport.

“I’ll have a car if I need one, and a bike, and I’m on a beach,” she said. “Dang it!”

She’ll leave in mid-August, and the team is flying her home for two weeks at Christmas.

Chamu asked her if she thought she could handle the area’s cold winters.

“I told him I’m from North Dakota. Can it get any worse than that?” she said.

Sigl has never been keen on television interviews, but she was told she has a TV interview her first day in France.

“I’m happy to be here ... bon jour!” she said of what that first TV interview in French might be like. “Seriously, they’re going to learn that about me real fast. I don’t like to do them in America, and now I have to do them in France and I don’t speak French? How the heck am I going to do that?”

Sigl plans to study French via Rosetta Stone, and Chamu said he’s enrolling her and a player from Siberia in a French class at the local university. She’s hoping those classes, immersing herself in the French culture and her job coaching a local youth team will help her adapt.

“It’s a great honor for her,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “It’s something she’s wanted to do, and now that dream has become a reality. She’ll be able to continue not only getting better as a basketball player, but she wants to get into coaching, and this will let her see something at a higher level.”

Sigl just laughs and shakes her head every time she says, “I’m moving to France.”

“I would live with regret the rest of my life if I didn’t. If worse comes to worse and it doesn’t work out and I don’t enjoy it, I can still say and put on my resume that I went over and played professional basketball,” she said. “Who knows? It very well could work out and I can play as long as my body allows.

“I have the biggest combination of fear and excitement possible. I have no idea what to expect, but that’s the same thing about coming to Colorado, and look at all the things that came out of here.”


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