LOGAN, W.Va. — It's been years since Shayna Gore sat in Andrea Santos' Spanish class at Logan High School.
The former Marshall University women's basketball star's Spanish is a bit hazy, but will be put to the test now that she has signed with a professional team in Spain. Gore will play "baloncesto" for Unicaja Baloncesto in Malaga City, Spain.
"I've gotta go make Ms. Santos proud now," Gore joked. "I took two years of Spanish in high school but it's so tough. My mom's boss actually got me a translator from Apple that I could hook up to my phone. When they talk it will translate English back to me. They say where I'm going they speak really good English."
Following her pro contract announcement, Gore's Twitter page and cell phone blew up, as she received dozens of well wishes from family, friends, fans and also people from Spain.
"My phone has been buzzing all day," Gore said. "I've been on Twitter and I already have a bunch of people welcoming me to the city and to the country. They've already been very welcoming to me over there. They are Tweeting things to me and it's in Spanish. I don't know what they are saying. I'm re-Tweeting it, so I hope that it's not anything bad."
Mlaga is a coastal city in southern Spain and lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean, about 60 miles east of the Straits of Gibraltar and about 80 miles north of Africa. The City has a population of 571,026.
Malaga, Spain has a long history as one of the oldest cities in Europe and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is believed to have been founded around 770 B.C. The city also has a strong cultural and arts heritage and is the birthplace of painter/sculptor Pablo Picasso and actor Antonio Banderas.
Malaga and southern Spain, with its usual warm climate, is known as a popular vacation spot for Europeans wanting to escape the cold winter months.
That's fine with Gore.
"Oh yeah, I'm on the beach!" Gore said. "When they first offered me this I went on line and did some research and saw where it was and saw that there were cruise ships there. It looked like a vacation spot. I'm about to play the game that I love and I'll be on vacation at the same time."
Gore said she already has a passport and will soon get her visa. Then it's off to Spain to join her new team. The Euro League women's season begins in October.
Spain has been a strong challenger to the United States at the Olympics and other international competitions for more than 20 years.
"My agent was telling me that Spain is really big on basketball," Gore said. "I was looking and their gym is packed all the time at games. The men's team is already number one in their league and they pack it out. The women's games are also well attended because they love basketball so much in Spain."
As is the case with most Euro League teams, the vast majority of squads are filled with countrymen or countrywomen of the home nation. Usually just two Americans are allowed per team. That will be the case for Gore and her team. The other American on the Unicaja Baloncesto roster is Angelica Robertson, a former player at Marquette.
"On my team there's only two Americans," Gore said. "It will be me and my roommate, Angelica. She was a WNBA draft pick in 2011. I'm told the coaches and managers are super nice."
Gore said her new team will primarily play against other pro teams from Spain, then toward the end of the season will take on teams from other countries in Europe.
Gore said she's thrilled to experience the transition from West Virginia to Spain.
"This has definitely come with a lot of emotion," Gore said. "People have asked how I feel. I'm happy, I'm scared, I'm nervous and I'm anxious. I've never been out of the country so it will be my first time. I will also be away from my family. The furthest I've been away has been Marshall. That's an hour and a half. This is long way away. But I'm really excited and this is a lifetime opportunity that I can't pass up. I'm just really excited to go over there and get to work with my new teammates."
Gore, knowing this day would come, has stayed busy this summer with a regular workout schedule.
"I haven't stopped working out this summer," Gore said. "I've been working out every day. I have a trainer in Hurricane that I've been going to also. I've also been working out a Logan in the field house. (Marshall) Coach (Tony) Kemper still gives me access to (Cam Henderson Center), as well. There's hardly been a day that I've not done something with a basketball."
Gore was recently passed over for a spot on the training roster of the WNBA's Dallas Wings. Her agent, Alicia Lopez and parent company Four Player Sports Agency, helped find her a job in Europe.
"She's awesome," Gore said of Lopez. "Even during basketball season when I couldn't sign she was still keeping in contact with me. My mom and dad and myself thought she was the best fit for me."
With Gore playing overseas she's following in the footsteps of another former Logan and Marshall basketball standout, Stevie Browning, who has played the last couple of seasons in the men's Euro Leagues in Turkey, Hungary and Greece.
"I've been talking to Stevie Browning a lot lately," Gore said. "We've been talking and he's been giving me a lot of insights about over there. He's been helping me get ready as much as possible."
Gore had a successful career with the Thundering Herd. In her senior season this year she averaged 20 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game and was named to the first-team all-Conference USA Team. She shot 38 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, sinking a total of 90. She also had 50 steals and nearly 100 assists. Gore was second in C-USA in scoring last season and was named to the all-conference second team the two prior seasons.
Marshall finished 17-15 this past season, falling 83-71 to Appalachian State in the quarterfinals of the Women's Basketball Invitational.
Gore, a 5-foot-10 shooting guard, finished her career with 2,081 points, third all-time in program history and ties her for sixth in Conference USA's all-time record book.