Sasha Weber rang in 2017 on an airplane. She flew from Portland to Amsterdam before eventually landing in Frankfurt, Germany, on Jan. 2.
Further south, in Freiburg, is where Weber, a former star at Timberline High School and New Mexico State University, will begin the next phase of her basketball career.
Weber signed a contract on Dec. 28 to play professionally with Eisvogel USC Freiburg, which competes in Germany’s premier women’s basketball league.
That same week, she boarded a flight.
“I had been waiting for the moment for so long, I just signed and hopped on the plane,” Weber said via email on Wednesday afternoon, not long after her arrival.
Weber, who graduated from NMSU last spring, signed with an agency in May. She had some near misses joining other professional teams overseas before signing with Eisvogel.
“The time period between me signing and me actually playing was a lot longer than anyone really expected,” Weber said. “However, I always trust God’s timing, and I’m glad to be in the position I’ve worked hard for.”
Weber said she switched her focus completely to basketball in May — she had originally planned to continue pursuing experience in her major — after realizing late at NMSU she wanted to continue playing beyond college.
“As time progressed, I realized I wasn’t done with the game yet, or the opportunities I have gotten through basketball,” Weber said. “It was probably during my senior year that it set in, where I realized I was nowhere near done, my body still had a lot left in it, and I still had a passion for the game.”
Weber was a transformative player for both her high school and college programs.
She was named The Olympian’s All-Area player of the year in 2012 after carrying Timberline to its second consecutive Class 3A state regional appearance.
The Blazers were 15-111 in the six years before Weber arrived. Her junior year, she led them to a 23-2 record and a 3A Narrows League title.
She left the school as the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,503 points) and was an Associated Press all-state selection as a senior.
“I think part of it is internal, you have to want it more than your opponent, and you have to hold yourself to a higher standard,” Weber said. “What helped me find success in these programs was hunger.
“Timberline had a horrible record, and it wasn’t going to be easy to rebuild a program, but with my teammates and our fight, our desire to hunger and silence the critics, we ended up going undefeated (in regular season play) my junior year and sweeping the competition, earning a state bid for the first time in school history.”
Something similar happened at NMSU. The Aggies started from the bottom, Weber said, and had shaky seasons her first two years. She could have transferred. She didn’t.
“She had a big part in the turnaround and the resurgence of basketball here at New Mexico State,” NMSU coach Mark Trakh said. “We’re excited by what she’s done.”
In Weber’s junior and senior seasons, NMSU won Western Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles, and made its first two appearances in the NCAA tournament since 1988.
She was named an all-Western Athletic Conference player twice, and was the WAC tournament MVP as a senior.
“I think a certain kind of player will take the easy way out, and a certain type of player will welcome a challenge and dedicate themselves to a program they believe in,” Weber said. “It wasn’t about winning, it was about building.
“I feel like my impact at Timberline and New Mexico State is like a personal trophy. I can look back and understand that I helped these programs to get the acknowledgment that was deserved.”
Trakh said Weber is one of the best players to ever come out of NMSU. He hopes to retire her jersey and hang it in the rafters one day.
“She always performed in the clutch and always hit the big shot and made the big play,” Trakh said. “That was huge for us, some of the things she did in game-ending situations.”
Weber said she was fueled by the feeling of being the underdog.
“I knew my talents, I knew my teammates’ talents, so every doubt, jab and diss that came our way, I welcomed it and literally took it out on opponents,” she said. “You have to have that fire and desire and a genuine love for the game.
“I think that’s one thing that’s helped greatly, is that I love what I’m doing, and I have confidence in what I’m doing.”
Weber’s impending professional career isn’t something she and Trakh often discussed, but it was always a possibility.
“She knew if it was going to happen, she’d have to work hard and it would have to be important to her, and that’s what she did,” Trakh said. “She had a great deal of success, and now she’s playing professional ball, which is outstanding.”
Weber said she still feels the jet lag from the quick move — it’s been only two days.
She started practicing with Eisvogel during its holiday break. The first game back is Jan. 11 in the Czech Republic.
Weber, a prolific shooter, is projected to help Eisvogel — which is 4-8 so far in Damen Basketball Bundesliga play — along the perimeter. She shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range during her senior season at NMSU.
“My role hasn’t changed too much,” Weber said. “I’m expected to score and play back-up point guard when need be. Coach refers to me as a ‘pusher,’ meaning I’m supposed to push the ball and elevate the level of play when I’m on the court.”
Weber said she doesn’t have a set plan as her basketball career continues, but does have goals she’d like to achieve in the near future.
“I hope the work I do now, and the opportunities to network on an international level will present open doors to me as far as where I decide to take my career,” she said.
“She’s one of the all-time greats,” Trakh said. “I’m really happy she’s gotten the opportunity to continue to play basketball.”