Unity makes strength: Belgian trio help Chicago Sky stay on track for title repeat National News
“It’s just amazing. The people are coming, but we don’t even know them. Sometimes I see a message on Instagram and they’re like, ‘We are coming to the game.’ I answer them, but sometimes it’s not friends or family, we just don’t know them, and that’s amazing to know that lots of people were coming from Belgium to see us, to watch us playing. It’s just great because we are a small country.”
On July 21, Belgium’s independence day, Wauters, Meesseman and Allemand met with Paul Van Halteren, the honorary Belgian consul for Chicago, and a group of fans who had made the trip to Chicago to cheer on the sky. Belgians aren’t only staying up late to watch the sky. They’re joining tours, and flying to the United States just to see Meesseman and Allemand play. The Belgian-American Club of Chicago joined in, and the Belgians on the Sky were able to celebrate their country’s independence even as they were thousands of miles away. The next night, the sky beat the wings in front of Van Halteren and the Belgium tour group.
“To have these two players and this assistant coach brings so much. We don’t have many opportunities to have these three individuals, who are absolutely so friendly themselves. Makes it interesting to have, all the sudden, some attention to our country, and for something really positive,” Van Halteren said.
Belgium has three official languages – French, Flemish and German – and sometimes the three women will drop into one of their native languages to make sure opponents don’t hear their plans on the court. Meesseman and Wauters speak English, Flemish and French, while Allemand speaks French and English. However, that divide has confused some of their teammates.
“Whenever I spoke with Ann, before Julie was here, they were like, ‘Oh, stop speaking Flemish. ‘Then Julie comes, they’re like, ‘Stop speaking Flemish.’ I’m like, ‘That’s French.’ ‘Oh, I thought you spoke Flemish,’ and they don’t really understand. Luckily, we don’t have a third person that speaks German. That would be mind blowing for them,” Meesseman said with a laugh.
Since Wauters, Allemand and Meesseman joined the Sky after the team won its first title, they have watched as the Sky’s championship roster has been celebrated. Meesseman and Wauters watched the team’s ring ceremony, and knew how much pressure was on the team to repeat. But this is also why they were added to the team. The next goal is to give Belgium one more thing to celebrate – a Chicago Sky championship.