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Smalltalk: Toby Christensen talks college ball, moving to Ireland and this weekend’s crucial cup game

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This week Adam Moynihan sat down with Scotts Lakers star Toby Christensen. The 6’7″ Danish forward signed for the Lakers in August and has quickly endeared himself to the Killarney faithful, averaging 21 points in his first six games.

 

Hi Toby. You’ve been in Killarney a couple of months now. What do you think?

I’m surprised how busy it is for such a small town. That’s really nice because I was expecting to be out in the country with nothing to do!

I believe you’re living with Aaron Jackson and Victor Martínez. How is that working out?

It’s a good set-up. We all have our own rooms, our own personal space. We like each other so it’s all good.

What about the people of Killarney? Have they been welcoming?

Oh for sure. Everywhere I go, people are saying ‘hi’ to me and asking me how I’m doing. Everyone has just been super nice.

Tell me how you ended up in Ireland.

I had an agent who was focussing on really big-time teams, teams who are playing in European competitions, which might have been kind of a high level for my first year out of college. At the very last minute I had to sign a different agent and then after a day, this opportunity came up (to play for the Lakers). He told me that it was a good town, and it all just happened in a day or two. It was kind of last-minute but it turned out to be a good situation.

What are the main differences between playing college ball in the States and playing in the Irish league?

In college we had practice every single day, we had film sessions, we lifted together, we had study hall together… They basically controlled our whole lives. It’s a whole different thing over there. They take their sport so seriously. Going from that to practicing two times a week and kind of being on my own is kind of crazy.

What part of Denmark are you from?

I’m from a place that’s 10-15 minutes outside of Cophenhagen. I lived there with my parents until I was 16 and then I moved to the US to play high school basketball.

That’s quite young to move away from home. Was it a tough decision to make?

It was tough for my mom to let me go but for me, I was set on it. It was what I wanted to do. It was always a dream of mine to play college basketball so I thought that going out there for high school would make it easier for me to get to college level and to get a scholarship.

Where did you play in America?

I was in high school in Maryland for three years and I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to go to the University of Connecticut. Then I ended up transferring to another college in California (Fresno Pacific).

You must have seen some top talent over there. Who’s the best player you’ve ever played with?

That’s a good one. Probably Markelle Fultz (Orlando Magic). He went to high school in Maryland as well so I played against him a couple of times, but then I also got the chance to play with him at a high school camp for the top ranked players in DC, Maryland and Virginia.

He had some issues in his first couple of seasons in the NBA…

Yeah, his shooting. I think he’ll start being a good player this year because they say that they fixed his shot. When I was playing with him he was shooting the ball too but mostly he was just getting rebounds, going coast to coast and dunking on people. It was kind of crazy to see in person.

What’s your proudest sporting moment to date?

Probably the day I received my first scholarship offer, because it meant that going to America and leaving my family had paid off. And I knew that we wouldn’t have to pay any money to get my education over there. That was really a big moment for me. It relieved a lot of pressure.

Any embarrassing moments on the court?

Let me think… I’ve never been dunked on in a game…

That record should be safe enough over here.

That’s true! But I have been dunked on in practice once. In my very first practice with my first college team we were playing pick-up and one of the walk-ons – I didn’t expect much from him because he didn’t have a scholarship or anything – he came down on transition and I was thinking, okay I’m gonna go up and block his shot. The next thing I know I’m on the ground looking up at him. He got the dunk on me. That was pretty embarrassing because it was my first experience in college basketball.

At 6’7” you’re obviously very tall, certainly by Irish standards, but I wouldn’t really say that you play like a typical big man. How would you describe yourself as a player?

The perception with me over here is that I’m big so I’m an inside guy, but I’m used to playing on the perimeter, being able to shoot the ball and attack from the outside. I like to create a little bit for others too here and there.

You mentioned your parents earlier. I saw them at the Tolka Rovers game. Did they enjoy it?

Yeah, they liked it. They liked the whole atmosphere. They were surprised at how many people showed up and they liked the town too. They’re coming back again at Christmastime and we’re going to explore this part of Ireland a little more.

Are you into other sports besides basketball?

Since I’m from Denmark, I love to watch handball. I do like soccer as well but mostly when the national team plays.

Ireland are playing Denmark next month in a big Euro 2020 qualifier. Do you think Ireland have a chance?

That’s tough. I’m from Denmark so I have to say that we’re gonna win. But it’s a huge game. It will be interesting.

I wouldn’t be too worried if I were you. What’s the best sporting moment of all time?

I’d have to say when LeBron and the Cavs came back from 3-1 down against the Warriors. That’s got to be the best. That was the most hype moment I’ve ever seen. It was crazy.

I’m actually kind of a Warriors fan but I’ll let that slide. Is there an app on your phone that you couldn’t live without?

Yes. Instagram. I’m on that a lot, so… I need that. If I didn’t have it I don’t know what I’d do. I get everything from there: news, sports, and I use it to stay in touch with my friends. And then Messenger, because I’ve got to talk to my parents and that’s the main way we communicate. If I have those two, I’m good.

We’ll have to put your Instagram handle into the article so you can bump up your followers! (_eurohooper_) What’s the last show you binge-watched?

Gotham. I just got done watching that. It’s a great show. I also like Family Guy and those kind of cartoony shows.

What sort of music do you listen to?

Mostly rap. I love Drake. That’s my go-to, always. I like J Cole and Meek Mill too.

Can you sing? Or rap?

No. Not at all.

So if you went to karaoke, it would be a refusal?

Yes, I would refuse. And the rap is too fast for me. I mean, I’m good at English but it isn’t my main language, so if I start going really, really fast, I’ll mess it up.

Okay, back to basketball. The Lakers have their biggest game of the season on Saturday against Ballincollig. How are the preparations going?

Pretty good. We’ve had other teams to focus on but we’ve been preparing for this game for a couple of weeks. I think we’ll have a good chance. We still hadn’t had a full practice with all of our players when we played them a few weeks ago. We have a new point guard as well, Mick McGinn, and he looks good. He’ll be big for us. I feel like we should beat them if we put it together.

And naturally being at home should be an advantage. It must be great for the players when a big crowd turns out to see you.

Oh yeah. It’s great to have people there, compared to the away games we’ve played when there’s one-quarter of the people… So it’ll be awesome if the whole gym fills up on Saturday night.

Hopefully there’s a big evening in store. Best of luck and thanks for speaking to me.

Thank you for having me.

 

President’s National Cup: Round 1
Scotts Lakers v Ballincollig
Saturday at 7.30pm
Killarney Sports Centre

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Chance to win a house in Killarney and support Kerry GAA

The Kerry GAA County Board has launched a ‘Win A House draw’ for a new house in Killarney . Funds raised by the draw will go towards the running expenses of the various Kerry football and hurling teams. The three-bed house is located in the Ceide Spris development just off the Park Road is built […]

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The Kerry GAA County Board has launched a ‘Win A House draw’ for a new house in Killarney

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Funds raised by the draw will go towards the running expenses of the various Kerry football and hurling teams.
The three-bed house is located in the Ceide Spris development just off the Park Road is built to modern energy standards, it represents a fantastic opportunity for people to get involved at a cost of €100 which will go a long way to supporting Kerry GAA.
“As a volunteer-based organisation, we have always had to fundraise to support our teams and clubs. We are delighted to be in a position to have a dream house available for a lucky winner,” Kerry GAA PRO Leona Twiss.
“While only one person can win the house, there will be plenty of cash prizes and match tickets to be won along the way. The sooner you purchase your ticket, the better chance you will have at winning those additional prizes.”

To enter the draw visit: https://www.kerrygaa.ie/winahouseinkerry/

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More great choices for large shrubbery

  Following last week’s article on large shrubs, I received many comments, suggestions and questions, leading me to believe that there were quite a few people unsure of what to plant in a large space. I felt at the end of the article there were definitely more plants for that list so here are some […]

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Following last week’s article on large shrubs, I received many comments, suggestions and questions, leading me to believe that there were quite a few people unsure of what to plant in a large space.

I felt at the end of the article there were definitely more plants for that list so here are some more great choices for the large shrubbery.

The bottlebrush, or Callistemon, is named appropriately for the shape of its flowers which are bottle-brush like spikes of many small flowers with long stamens, giving it that brush like appearance. Usually red, they are also available in yellow and pink. They flower in summer and into autumn adding a lovely splash of colour. Their leaves are hard and spiky with arching branches. Cut them back immediately after flowering or they will not flower the following year. If they do grow out of hand, they will tolerate a hard cut back.

Ceanothus, or the Californian lilac, is an often evergreen shrub bearing dark blue flowers. There are several sizes from the low creeping C. repens, to the tree like proportions of C. thyrsiflorus. An ideal candidate for the large border is C. ‘Gloire de Versailles’, which has large blue flowers from July to the end of autumn, (deciduous), or C. ‘Southmead’ which has dark blue flowers in early spring (semi-evergreen), or C. ‘Blue Mound’ which has deep blue flowers (evergreen). I find with all ceanothus that their flowering times seem to be very weather dependant!

Forsythia is a large common shrub which flowers early in spring before the leaves appear. I mention it as it seems to have gone out of fashion completely, though it adds such a fantastic yellow brightness in those dark February days.People often complain that it either grows out of all proportions or that it does not flower. If pruning, do so immediately after flowering. ‘Golden Nugget’ is possibly one of the smaller varieties at a natural five foot.

An unusual, but well worth finding plant is the Sorbus reducta. It is a low 1-1.5m type of mountain ash, with all the great features of its larger tree relatives! It forms a thicket – yes, it does sucker, but does not take over, has white flowers followed by dark red berries which fade to a creamy colour. Like most mountain ashes, its autumn colour is blazing!

Butterfly bushes, buddleja, are a much maligned plant as it can self seed and become a bit of a nuisance. However, it does not really self seed much in gardens where the conditions are not ideal, (ideal conditions – derelict, dry, stony waste land). Most cultivated varieties are sterile, so there is no reason to avoid them! B. colvilei is a very unusual variety, being semi-evergreen with large panicles of tubular dark pink flowers – these clusters can reach up to 20cm. B. davidii is the common butterfly bush and is available in a range of colours such as ‘Black Knight’, deep, deep purple, ‘Empire Blue’, blue flowers with orange centre, ‘Royal Red’, deep pink/maroon. One of my favourites is ‘Harlequin’ which has variegated leaves. There is a range of smaller butterfly bush available too; the ‘buzz’ series.

These remain compact, up to 1m, however their flowers are not quite as impressive! To remedy that, plant breeders have come up with a new variety – the ‘Rocketstar’ series. I have only just planted one, but it promises a diminutive 80cm with the same large flowers as large varieties have. If this plant does what its creators claim, it will certainly be a hit in my garden!

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Checklist for CAO Change of Mind

  Many of you are still working your way through the Leaving Cert exams but with the CAO Change of Mind deadline approaching on July 1, it is really important that you take some time to look at the details of your CAO application, particularly your course choices. This is the last opportunity for you […]

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Many of you are still working your way through the Leaving Cert exams but with the CAO Change of Mind deadline approaching on July 1, it is really important that you take some time to look at the details of your CAO application, particularly your course choices.

This is the last opportunity for you to make changes before the final deadline at 5.15pm on tha day. It has been a challenging two years, with lots of uncertainty and so much has been out of your control. What is within your control now is how you finalise your CAO choices to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of securing a place on a course you want in September. Leaving Cert results will be issued on September 3 with CAO Round 1 Offers out on September 7. To use the Change of Mind facility you simply log on to www.cao.ie, click on ‘My Application’ and log in with your CAO number, date of birth and account password.

​​​​​​​CHECKLIST

As you review your CAO choices in the coming weeks, use the following checklist as a guide:

* Have you checked your Statement of Application email from CAO and verified that all your details are correct including personal, educational and exemption details?

* Have you included courses on both sides of the CAO (Level 8 and Level 7/6). This gives you the best chance of getting two offers when the Round 1 Offers come out – the top choice that you qualify for on each list. You will then have to choose which one you prefer.

* Have you filled in as many of the 20 choices as you can? You have the option to fill up 10 on both sides, giving you 20 possible options for college in the new academic year. By filling all 20 choices you give yourself 20 chances of getting a college place.

* Have you checked the Alert Lists on www.cao.ie? Lots of new courses have been added in several colleges since the CAO Handbook was published last September, some very recently. You can add these courses in by checking the course code on the Alert List.

* Have you taken out courses that you are no longer interested in? Lots of students rush the application ahead of the February 1 deadline with the intention of coming back to look at the course choices more closely. It is not unusual for students to completely change their minds between February and July 1.

* Have you researched the detail of any course that you are including on your CAO application – take particular note of entry requirements and modules. By doing so you are giving yourself the best chance of choosing courses that you are able for, that suit you and that you are interested in.

* Have you listed your courses in Order of Preference? This is the golden rule of CAO. No one knows what the points will be for 2021 until the day the Round 1 offers come out and equally you won’t know your results of exams and/or accredited grades until September 3. My advice is don’t try to second guess either of them and before 5.15pm on July 1, make sure that your course choices are listed in Order of Preference!

* Have you applied the HEAR and/or DARE schemes or completed the HPAT exam? If so you will know the outcome of your applications on June 29 and the result of the HPAT exam is expected around the same time. This may influence your decisions around your choices.

You have had a challenging senior cycle, all the more reason to look ahead to a brighter future. Take time to review your CAO course choices, research your options outside of CAO and make an informed decision about the best next step after the Leaving Cert!

In next week’s column I will be answering your questions about CAO Change of Mind and offer stage so please send them to info@mycareerplan.ie or DM me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook on @mycareerplan1.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors and Careers Advisor at www.mycareerplan.ie.

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