By Ryan Murken, Iowa City Press-Citizen
Kali Peschel was able to do everything she planned during her six-week study abroad trip to Spain this summer. Peschel immersed herself in the foreign culture, she experienced a different way of life and took in the sights during her stay in the town of Valladolid.
The Iowa senior also got to do something she never expected during stay in Spain — she got to play a little basketball. Peschel found an outdoor basketball court in Valladolid, a city located two hours north of Madrid, and managed to scour up a basketball and time to shoot every morning for five weeks before heading off to classes.
"I knew the basketball thing would be hard, they use their feet more than hands in sports over there," Peschel said. "It was awesome that it worked out that I found a basketball."
As Peschel planned for the trip that was offered through a University of Iowa program and accounted for seven credits towards her double major in Spanish and communications, she intended to find time to stay in basketball shape as best she could.
Peschel got a membership to a weight room to keep up her weightlifting and conditioning, but figured it would be hard to find a court or a ball.
She found both, and even managed to join some middle-aged men for pickup games.
"The games were not really that good," Peschel said with a laugh. "But they let me hop in and it was good to get up and down the court."
Peschel returned to Iowa City in early July and has been working hard to make up for the two weeks of summer workouts that she missed.
In two appearances in the Game Time League this summer, she is averaging 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game after her 20-point, 12-rebound effort on Wednesday.
Photo by Aaron Blau for Iowa Now
"The first week was a little rough, I was a little nervous getting back," Peschel said. "I missed it, I was definitely ready to come back and get back in the gym and work with the girls so it feels good to be back."
Voted a captain for her final season, Peschel is hoping to make her last year at Iowa her best.
The 6-foot-1 Peschel played the best basketball of her career last season down the stretch, which included a 12-point performance in Iowa's Sweet 16 loss to Baylor.
She scored in double figures in three of Iowa's final five games, averaging 9.4 points on 62 percent shooting.
"It's my last hurrah so I'm working as hard as I can," Peschel said. "Any time I can get in the gym and put up some extra shots I'm trying to do that, I'm working on my ballhanding, just listening to the coaches and trying to lead the team."
One of only three players to start a game last season, Peschel is expected to see a more extensive role in the Iowa offense this season after ranking sixth on the team with 5.1 points per game.
As much as Peschel is expected to help replacing the scoring production of departed seniors Bethany Doolittle, Samantha Logic and Melissa Dixon, she will be looked even more to help replace the leadership of that trio as well as fellow departed senior Kathryn Reynolds.
"I've had great role models that have been captains and leaders for me in my time here and I'm trying to follow their lead," Peschel said. "I have confidence that I can be a leader on this team."