This article, written by Yash Bhika, was originally published in The Red & Black.
As a child, freshman point guard Gabby Connally and her family were constantly on the move. Whether it was to a different city or to another continent, no place seemed out of reach for Connally because both of her parents were members of the military.
Some of the places she remembers living in were Texas, Washington State, Virginia, Arizona and Korea.
“As a kid, I always thought that it was cool because I got to see different places and meet new people,” Connally said.
Unsurprisingly, one of Connally’s favorite places to live was Korea. She enjoyed being out of the country and experiencing the culture. She lived there between the ages of 5 and 6 years old.
But it was in Korea that Connally was able to play basketball for the first time. She remembers watching her brother play for his team, so she expressed interest to her dad about starting the sport.
Connally, naturally picked up the role as a point guard on her co-ed team in Korea.
“My dad would always tell me that a lot of kids would dribble one or two times then pick the ball up and run,” Connally said. “But, my dad always made me dribble all the way down the court.”
Connally recalls being extremely nervous about her first game in Korea, which is a sharp contrast to the calming presence she was when she dropped a career-high 37 points on Texas A&M on Jan. 14, 2018.
“My dad tells me this story all the time, I told him that I didn’t want to go, and he was like, ‘Oh, No we’re going.’ I was nervous,” Connally said. “I started crying, it was this whole big deal, but once I got onto the court and started playing they couldn’t take me off because I was having so much fun.”
The young point guard got her first taste of basketball as a 5-year-old in Korea, but she enjoys talking about the activities she did off the court while there.
“The Korean experience was really cool, and just to be able to say that I lived there and out of the country is something I’m really, like, happy about,” Connally said.
She picked up how to write and speak in Korean, however, she has since forgotten the language but still has a journal with her that details some of the teachings.
Connally was caught off guard by how strict her first grade teacher was at Korea, and she remembers how her instructor demanded perfection from all the students. She even recalled a day where all the students were given a day off because they had to spend that day to study for exams.
Although there was a lot of school work, Connally used her free time to hang out with her brother, and the duo would get cheese noodles, as Connally described it, four times out of the week.
“I like to pick bamboo,” Connally said. “Me and my brother would just play with bamboo, kind of like the lightsabers, so that was one cool thing [we did].”
If she wasn’t play fighting with bamboo sticks, Connally loved the freedom she and her brother had to roam the streets. She was fond of the open markets, and she said the movies were free to go into.
Connally even got to climb the Great Wall of China, but she admitted that it was hot, and all she wanted to do was go back down. She even started to cry, but her parents forced her to finish the task.
“I’m able to say that I’ve seen a seven wonder of the world, and I made it to the top because a lot of people start to climb it, and they don’t get to the top because it is so big,” Connally said. “I think that’s one of the cool things I get to say about myself.”
Even after the sightseeing of every new place, Connally admitted that it was hard for her to not see old friends.
But she lauds her parents for teaching her how to be respectful and giving her a structured life. The qualities she took from her parents are the same ones that guide her as a basketball player.
“I just try to gain the respect of my teammates because as a point guard you’re the coach on the floor,” Connally said. “I just want my teammates to be able to listen to me and trust me.”