Faces of AWNY: Rebecca Allen

Rebecca Allen is a professional athlete who brings her talents and tenacity to New York every summer playing guard for Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team, New York Liberty.  Rebecca shares her favorite places in the “big city” to unwind, and talks about how she stays connected to her Aussie roots.

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from and what brought you to New York?
I’m originally from Melbourne and moved to New York five years ago. I’m only based in New York City during the summer months because I’m a professional basketball player in the WNBA competition with New York Liberty. 

Tell us more about your role as a professional athlete.
I’ve been playing overseas as a professional basketballer for five years now. I’ve been lucky enough to have played for New York Liberty for five straight seasons during the summer competition, as well as playing in Europe during the winter. During the winter seasons I’ve played in Slovakia, France and Poland. I consider myself very lucky to have had so many experiences simply through the game of basketball. It’s opened my eyes to different cultures and I’ve grown as a person.

As a professional working in NYC, what are the differences to working in Australia?
I can really only compare this [experience] to playing basketball back home in Australia. The competition over here in America is at the pinnacle and you don’t have the safety net of family and friends being able to physically support with you each day. But other than that I find it very similar. As an Australian, I think we are able to adapt and assimilate into many different cultures easily.

Australian woman basketball athlete in New York Rebecca Allen
Image credit Mike Lawrence

Where is home for you in New York? Why did you choose that area?
I live in Brooklyn and it’s my first time living here. The four years prior to this I was living in White Plains. The housing and location has always been up to the management of the team and we moved to Brooklyn due to new ownership of the team. Originally, we were owned by Madison Square Garden, but now one of the owners of the Brooklyn Nets has taken us on. Brooklyn has very quickly become a favorite area of mine!

What do you like/dislike about living in NYC?
Being from Melbourne I’m definitely a big city girl! Although New York takes “big city” to a whole other extreme. I love how there is so much to do, between the amazing parks situated all over Manhattan and Brooklyn and the immense restaurant scene, I am in heaven. My only dislike would probably be the mystery puddles that appear randomly on sidewalks and the odd bad smell as you pass all the rubbish laid out on bin day!

What are some of your “only in New York” moments?
One example is going to Washington Square Park or Central Park and seeing musical talents performing in front of large crowds of people. Or even when you’re sitting on the subway and someone just stands up out of nowhere and breaks into song. Obviously it’s very hit or miss with how good they may be, but it always feels like an “only in NYC” moment!

What’s your favorite place to hang out in New York?
Washington Square Park would have to be one of my favorite spots to go. I especially enjoy visiting during the afternoons, sitting there with some lunch, listening to the music and people watching. It’s always very entertaining!

Is there anything you miss about Australia? 
I really miss my family and friends, but FaceTime definitely makes that a lot easier. Technology is a wonderful thing! A big thing I miss about Melbourne in particular is the café/brunch lifestyle. We definitely know how to make a good breakfast in Melbourne!

What are your favorite ways to connect with Aussie culture in NYC?
The Australian cafes in New York are where I go when I need to connect with home. Many of the staff working there are Australian and it’s a funny thing how nice it is to hear your accent again! I particularly love Two Hands in Tribeca.

Australian woman basketball athlete in New York Rebecca Allen
Image courtesy of WNBA

What is your top tip for friends visiting NYC?
Time Out New York is a website/app that I always tell people to check out when they come here. It has some of the best spots to visit whether it be restaurants, cocktail bars, speakeasies, entertainment – whatever it is your looking for. I find that very helpful.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given about working/living in NYC?
The most significant piece of advice I’ve been given is that you can’t wait until you’re ready. You have to be confident in stepping out of your comfort zone if you want to grow and evolve as a person, and within your profession.

What does it mean to you to be an “Australian woman in New York City”?
For me, it’s something to be proud of. Making the move halfway across the world, independently is not an easy transition, but I have managed to thrive within this environment.

To check out Rebecca’s impressive stats with New York Liberty, read her player bio: http://www.wnba.com/player/rebecca-allen/

Find out more about New York Liberty including the schedule for the current season: https://www.wnba.com/schedule/


Author: Angela Tohl

Adelaide-born Angela came to New York in search of the ultimate adventure, by way of Australia and Japan. She juggles technical and copywriting projects, with chasing her kids around (usually on roller skates). Find Angela on Twitter @angelatohl and at www.australianwomeninnewyork.org/author/angelatohl/. Image credit: Susie Lang

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