I received a call from Governor Bill Richardson’s office back in 2013 and recommended me for a mission trip, as he had watched me play basketball as a collegiate athlete at the University of New Mexico. Soon after, I was put in touch with Mike Evans and he agreed to let me and my husband Eric travel to Cuba with Full Court Peace.
Being asked by the Governor was an honor but also I had been to Cuba before with Team Canada and I have always wanted to go back. And to be able to go back and actually help women who play sports was even more intriguing to me. When I was there with Team Canada, we all left a pair of basketball shoes for their national team because they had very little equipment. This time I was able to return with a few duffle bags of gear and it was very rewarding!
Spending time with the locals, especially the female basketball players is what I appreciate the most about my time in Cuba. It was great to talk and get to know them. Many of the women would have played basketball in college I am sure of it. They were extremely talented but it was sad to see they didn’t have the same opportunities to use their gifts as I and many other American women have been able to. It was extremely humbling to see what little the community in Cuba were able to live with and without. My husband and I both realized how much we rely on "stuff" and things that really aren’t necessary. We take a lot for granted and should be blessed to know what we have at our disposal here in America. I have been to a lot of other countries with basketball but this one was the first time I felt like I knew what it was like to live in Cuba.
Upon returning home, I just looked at the world a little differently. I try to remember my time there and be thankful. But I have also followed Cuba a lot closer since then and am very proud to have been a part of Full Court Peace and what it has helped accomplish in Cuba. I wish that I could have kept in touch with those women to see how they are doing. I think it is a great experience for athletes, especially those who haven’t been out of the U.S. Not only is it great for them but I think it was great for the Cubans to see Americans as good people who love something as much as they do. Basketball is a universal language that can be used to bridge those gaps that we are missing.
I would love my daughters to be a part of something like this someday.
Jordan Adams-Smith, a former University of New Mexico and Team Canada women’s basketball standout, was the 18th overall pick in 2003 by the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx and recently served as an assistant coach at Pepperdine University