Texas State women’s basketball alumna Da’Nasia Hood embarked on her professional basketball career by signing her first professional contract in Puerto Rico last spring.
However, her journey took a drastic turn when she experienced a culture shock upon her arrival in Israel to begin her second professional contract amid the country’s ongoing conflict with Hamas.
“It was only my third day. I had only slept there for two nights and had only finished one practice before they started the attacks,” Hood said. “I was in and out of [a] bomb shelter and taking cover for safety. Also with the league being on hold I wasn’t even playing basketball, so I decided to just come home.”
While in Israel, Hood lived in a local hotel along with a teammate. Many of her other teammates were Israeli residents and had to stay in their local living conditions while the basketball league came to a pause due to the nation’s conflict. In the heat of frequent attacks, Hood said she had to take cover in the hotel stairwells when local emergency sirens would sound off.
The sirens prompted Israelis to take cover and remain inside in the event of the Iron Dome, a defense system that launches guided missiles to intercept incoming rockets and other mid-range air threats, firing projectiles.
“It was just my luck that the attacks started when I got there,” Hood said.
Since the Hamas attacks began, over 5,000 rockets have been sent into Israel, with most of them being successfully neutralized by the Iron Dome. Israel retaliated with airstrikes prior to sending troops and tanks on foot into the Gaza Strip, with a declared goal of eliminating the Islamist militant group.
The death toll in Palestine has climbed over 10,000 since Israel began its ground assault on Oct. 27, including over 5,000 Palestinian children.
Hood had initially found comfort in the relative stability of tensions between Israel and Hamas in recent years. Israel is home to premier foreign basketball leagues overseas and has played a part in the careers of current and former WNBA players. The opportunity seemed to be a great addition to Hood’s professional resume and could’ve helped reach her goal of playing in the WNBA.
“This is still something I want to do as far as playing basketball,” Hood said. “As women, though, we just don’t have as many opportunities to play here on our homeland. It can take a couple of years to play in the WNBA, so this is something we have to continue speaking up on.”
After returning safely to San Marcos from Israel, Hood had the chance to reflect on her journey. This helped her put into perspective how much playing professionally in the United States, where she can be watched by her family and friends, would mean to her.
Playing basketball professionally was a dream for Hood, which she first envisioned during her sophomore year of high school when she got in touch with Texas State women’s basketball Head Coach Zenarae Antoine.
“One area I pay a lot more attention to is when a student-athlete says they want to be a professional player or a coach because I have my expertise in that area,” Antoine said. “In Da’Nasia’s case of wanting to be a pro we have different conversations to prepare her for that next phase and take what we’ve learned from the journeys of previous professionals we have coached and mentored.”
Hood finished her career as a Bobcat with impressive accolades, ranking in various categories in the record book. She is currently fifth in all-time scoring with 1,845 points, fifth in rebounds with 837, third in successful three-point field goal attempts with 186, and has been a three-time All-Sun Belt Conference First Team selection.
Despite her accomplishments, the path to playing professional basketball in the U.S. for the WNBA is a long one with few able to make the journey.
John Hollmon, a San Marcos basketball player development specialist, had been working with Hood since her junior season at Texas State. He believed in her potential to become a professional player, whether it be in the WNBA or overseas.
Currently, there are several former NCAA mid-major players thriving in the WNBA, such as Kierstan Bell, a Florida Gulf Coast guard, who recently won the WNBA title with the Las Vegas Aces.
“It’s important that these women advocate for mid-major players and get scouts to take a chance on inviting them to training camp,” Antoine said.
Hood is set to begin her third professional basketball contract in Finland in the coming weeks. With each opportunity to play professionally, the San Antonio native continues to defy any limitations placed on her path to a successful professional career.
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