HELENA -- For some Carroll College basketball players, it's just a short trip to Washington, or a little bit farther to California, to head home during the offseason. For Jovan Sljivancanin and Brad King, whose homes are on the other side of separate oceans, the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for them to go home over the summer.
“It was really weird because I've actually never been here during summer,” said Sljivancanin.
Sljivancanin is from Belgrade, Serbia, more than 5,500 miles away from Belgrade, Montana. Originally, Sljivancanin was slated to go home to visit friends and family, but, due to regulations regarding travel, he wouldn’t have made it back in time for the season to begin -- a situation that understandably left him feeling a bit upset, but Sljivancanin took it in stride.
“I thought I was going to still go home until last moment. And then once I heard that I wasn't able to go home, because it was too risky, then I was really, I was kind of sad -- not being able to see my family, friends, people back home for another year," said Sljivancanin. "But I was like, basketball is a priority and school here.”
Another international player on the team is King, a junior on the squad from Dromana, Australia, 8,600 miles away from Helena. King found himself in the same situation: unable to go home and visit family in the offseason, but, nonetheless, he found a bright side.
“I normally get a chance to go home over the summer, but COVID put that off and I wanted to be as committed as I could coming into this season,” said King. "I think I've worked it out to about 693 days since I was last on this floor to last Friday, which was pretty exciting, special, a special moment for me."
King went down with a leg injury during his sophomore year in 2018 and was a medical redshirt last year. He returned to game action for the first time in nearly two years when the Fighting Saints downed the Dickinson State Blue Hawks on Nov. 10. During the offseason, King and Sljivancanin took advantage of the time away from home during the summer to get better.
“It's tough being away from home, but the payoff is really big as well. So I think I'm in a good position for the upcoming season,” said King
“I was like pretty much living here in this in this gym. I mean, there's always some positive and negative things, so I took advantage of being able to be here all day,” said Sljivancanin.
It's obvious the two would like to return home, sooner rather than later, but for the time being it's basketball season.
The Fighting Saints will travel to Dickinson, N.D. to face the Blue Hawks on Nov. 27.