After spending her whole life in the Canary Islands, Hofstra Pride women’s basketball’s Ana Hernandez Gil took a risk when she chose to continue her playing career at Hofstra University. Hernandez Gil had never even stepped foot in the United States until she moved on campus to join the team.
Her journey from the Canary Islands – a Spanish territory just off the southern shore of Morocco – to America was a long one.
Hernandez Gil started playing basketball around the age of seven.
“I was playing soccer with my friends at school,” Hernandez Gil recalled. “My best friends were boys and they were playing basketball so I started playing basketball with the boys. I liked it so much, and they were telling me ‘you need to keep going, keep playing basketball.’ That’s how it all started.”
Hernandez Gil continued playing throughout her childhood. Coaches recognized her skill in the game as she was selected for Spain’s under-16 and under-18 national teams.
Those teams went on to compete in the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) European Championships, taking her to countries such as Hungary to play against the top talent from all over the continent. It was there that Hofstra Pride head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey was waiting for her.
“Coach K started talking to me and told me she was interested in me,” Hernandez Gil said of how her interest in Hofstra started. “She told me about the university and everything and I really liked it. Coach K came out to my island, then she went to Hungary to see me playing with the national team. I appreciated that a lot, the way she supported me.”
Hernandez Gil is one of four European players to enter the fold for the Pride. Marianne Kalin (Finland), Sandra Karsten (Finland), and Petja Krupenko (Slovenia) are the other freshmen to come to Hofstra from overseas.
“[The coaching staff] was telling me about how they had more Europeans coming, so we all exchanged phone numbers and started talking,” Hernandez Gil said. “[Now] I’m not the only one who gets homesick sometimes. We’re all together and support each other.”
Since the Pride lost six players at the end of last year, there’s a lot of playing time up for grabs among the new players. Hernandez Gil, who is shooting 45 percent behind the three-point line on the season, is slowly becoming the team’s most reliable option from deep. However, Hernandez Gil doesn’t see herself as just a sharpshooter.
“I think my role this year is to support the team and to give them energy as much as I can,” Hernandez Gil said. “If [coach] puts me on the court I will be ready. I’ll try to play as best as I can and support the team. I love the team like a family.”
Hernandez Gil and the Pride are currently 4-3 on the season. With conference games coming up in a few weeks, there’s only one thing on Hernandez Gil’s mind.
“[I want] the ring, of course,” Hernandez Gil said. “I want to win so badly. I think we have a really good team, and if we work together and support each other, we can do good things this year.”