No matter where Ilijana Todorovic is in the world, you can find her near a basketball court.
A player for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national team since age 14, Todorovic spent the last six years playing for her home country before joining the SUNY Canton women’s team this year for the second half of the season. The results were immediate.
Todorovic helped lead the team to eight straight wins and a 10-2 second half record. She finished as the team’s second leading scorer (11.1 pts./gm) and tied as the top rebounder (6.5 rebs/gm).
When it came time for college, I had offers to play college basketball in the United States, but the American University of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AUBiH) was opening campus addition in Banja Luka, my hometown,” she said. “It gave me the chance to stay closer to home."
After her first year at the university, Todorovic decided she wanted to spend a semester studying abroad at SUNY Canton, becoming the first student from AUBiH to do so. “SUNY Canton’s dual degree partnership with AUBiH made it possible for me to study in the United States and receive a good education while experiencing college basketball and Canton,” Todorovic said.
Early on, she discovered the rules and lifestyle both on and off the court differed a bit from those at home. She spent her first weeks with the Roos team adjusting to the rigorous practices, a shorter shot clock, a new coach and new teammates, but she was quick to adapt.
Playing in the Sunrise Conference Post-Season Tournament has been one of the highlights of her time abroad. “Being there, bonding with the team, and having the chance to play for the title after arriving on campus only weeks before just blows my mind,” she said.
Despite a heartbreaking two-point loss in the conference championship, the Bosnian had only positive things to say about her competitive experience. “The games brought the team closer together,” she said. "Each player gave 100 percent of what they had in both games. We left our hearts on the court."
For Todorovic, there has been no ‘off-season’ while in the United States– she always finds herself learning. Without basketball practices, she’s had the chance to engage a bit more with the different culture. "America is so much more than what they make it seem like in movies, shows, and songs,” she said. “I’m glad I got a chance to experience it myself."
Despite being far from home, social and new media outlets such as Skype have helped her keep in close contact with family and friends. She noted that it’s taken her being away from her home and country to learn more about herself and Bosnia. "People with different beliefs and backgrounds live in peace and get along much better here than they do where I live," Todorovic said. "That is something my country needs to work on."
Todorovic has enjoyed her time in the North Country and the variety of new experiences she has encountered. "Studying abroad provides people with a variety of experiences that can literally change the way they see life."