LUBLIN, POLAND—As United States prepares for the Bronze Medal game at the 2019 World Deaf Basketball Championship, USA Women’s Deaf National Team’s 5’-8” guard Christine Smith of Lowell, Arkansas and 5’-11” forward Valerie Phlaum of Indio, California chat with USADSF. Christine, who graduated from Lyon College in 2013 with degrees in Education and Psychology, and Valerie, who also plays with her deaf sister Mireya at Shadow Hills High School, dish the details on their paths to the World Championships.
USADSF: Tell us a bit about how you got into the sport and your path to the World Championships?
Christine Smith: I grew up watching my older brother play and trying to sneak onto the court. From there I continued to grow passionate for the game and I started playing competitive basketball in fourth grade, and soon after that I regularly attended basketball camps. I have been on the USADB team since the 2013 Summer Deaflympics.
Valerie Phlaum: I didn’t start playing competitively until I was 14 years old, but I loved playing basketball since a young age with my older cousins, who were very competitive and always took me to the park, and then I joined my sister Mireya in high school.
USADSF: What does your training regimen look like?
Smith: Incorporating different types of workouts help me to fully prepare to compete at my highest level. I train months in advance to prepare for USADB events.
Phlaum: I train almost everyday, which usually consists of running and practicing at a local park.
USADSF: What do you enjoy beside basketball?
Phlaum: When I’m not training, I’m either listening to music or going shopping. I’ve been exploring photography lately, and am considering studying it in college.
Smith: I enjoy playing slow pitch softball, and fishing, woodworking, and being outdoors are hobbies of mine.
USADSF: What is the best part about the World Deaf Basketball Championships?
Phlaum: Meeting deaf people from around the world, for sure.
Smith: Definitely bonding with my teammates and coaches, and working hard to bring home a medal!