SDSU to Europe

Sargents thankful for hoops, honeymooning in Germany

Not long after tying the knot on a sunny summer afternoon in Mitchell, July 6, 2012, Clint Sargent and the former Jill Young departed on a long-awaited celebration to the Hawaiian Island of Maui, but these two former SDSU basketball stars had a much longer journey waiting for them once they returned home to Brookings.

Clint and Jill Sargent pose in the uniforms of their Heidelberg, Germany, basketball teams

Clint and Jill Sargent pose in the uniforms of their Heidelberg, Germany, basketball teams

These newlyweds are on a nine-month honeymoon in Heidelberg, Germany. While southwestern Germany and the bustling university town of Heidelberg doesn’t exactly scream “Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations,” the Sargents’ extended stay is truly a storybook tale — a combination of business and pleasure where nuptials meet “nothing but net.”

Not only do Clint and Jill now share a last name, but the name on the back of the jersey matches the one on the front as the most prolific three-point shooters in SDSU men’s and women’s basketball history play professional basketball for the same organization, USC Heidelberg.

“After thinking about it for a while, it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend our first year of marriage playing basketball in Europe together,” says Clint, now in his second season with Heidelberg in Germany’s Pro-A second division.

“The easiest part about living abroad is that we have each other. It’s been great to be on our own out here and it has helped strengthen our marriage because we only have one another to rely on,” he says.

2012 — Long-distance shooters a long ways apart

A 2011 graduate of SDSU and sixth all-time leading scorer in school history, Clint had a memorable rookie campaign where the 6-foot-4 guard averaged 11 points and two rebounds per game, while shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc for Heidelberg. About 5,000 miles away in South Dakota, Jill — a 5-foot-7 sharpshooter who set school and conference records with 305 career three-point field goals as a senior — was busy helping the Jackrabbits earn another conference tournament title.

But both Clint and Jill confess that first year away from one another was “definitely hard being apart.”

“We started dating our freshman year of college, so those four years we never really had to deal with distance or not being able to see one another,” Jill begins. “It took getting use to but we made it work and our relationship is definitely stronger because of it.”

Together in Heidelberg
Clint and Jill (Young) Sargent are spending their first year as a married couple playing basketball in Heidelberg, Germany.

Clint and Jill (Young) Sargent are spending their first year as a married couple playing basketball in Heidelberg, Germany.

Between Jill closing out an impressive career at SDSU (she ranks 15th all-time with 1,356 points), graduating, and planning a wedding, she and Clint also discussed life after South Dakota State and the opportunity for Jill to play professionally overseas. Knowing Heidelberg has a women’s team and the coaching staff was able to watch some of Jill’s games thanks to ESPN America, the combination made for an ideal situation.

By early August, the Sargents were Deutschland-bound to begin their respective training camps for the 2012-13 season in Heidelberg. And there isn’t anyone more thankful to have Jill in Germany than her own husband.

“Having Jill here with me actually feels like home. Last year my apartment wasn’t decorated at all and I really didn’t get too creative with my cooking skills. This year the apartment is always decorated, and let’s just say I eat a lot better than I did last year. Just being able to enjoy and experience this unique opportunity with Jill has made a huge difference,” says Clint.

Skype only goes so far

Ask this couple what they miss the most about home and Clint and Jill don’t miss a beat: “family and food.”

“We miss being able to be there for family events and gatherings. We just became an aunt and uncle last spring so we miss being able to watch our little nephew grow but we are thankful for Skype,” says Jill. “Being away from our families is the hardest part. Initially, that is what made the decision to come out here a little difficult for me, but my parents were able to visit for a couple weeks at the end of October, which was nice.”

Staying in touch with friends and family over Skype and Facebook certainly helps bridge the gap over continents.

A whole different game

Basketball, complete with twice-daily practice schedules and weekly game days, also provides a distraction. The Sargents’ current venue may be a far cry from the 6,500-seat multipurpose Frost Arena but there is something endearing about the friendly confines of the 1,500-seat OSP Rhine-Neckar “sporthalle.”

Clint and Jill (Young) Sargent are on a year-long honeymoon in Germany.

Clint and Jill (Young) Sargent are on a year-long honeymoon in Germany.

“To me, playing basketball overseas is a totally different dynamic than college basketball,” Clint explains.

“The aspect of being paid to perform adds a pressure that most players aren’t used to. The overall game atmosphere is great. I’d describe it as a mini-soccer game indoors. Unlike college, the fans are allowed to use noisemakers such as horns, drums and whistles. There’s nothing like it,” he says.

Yet the biggest perk about living and playing basketball overseas is simply the opportunity to explore Europe.

“We have traveled to Strasbourg, France, a few times together to visit the La Petite France area in the city. When my parents were here they made a trip to Italy and Switzerland. It’s difficult for Clint to travel as he usually has practice six days of the week or a game. However, after the season we really want to take a Mediterranean cruise before we head back to the States,” adds Jill.

Thanks to their deep-rooted faith, Clint and Jill know wherever their journey leads next, they will always take with them the memories from SDSU and Germany.

“In attending SDSU, we were both blessed to be surrounded by extremely influential people who helped teach us the importance of accountability, attitude and leadership,” says Jill. “Also, with both of us coming from Christian households, our faith has really helped us when challenges have come up and we have been able to keep it all in perspective. Although basketball is our job now, at the end of the day it doesn’t define our lives and who we are.”

Future plans not finalized
Relaxing on a fall day by the Neckar River that runs through the middle of Heidelberg.

Relaxing on a fall day by the Neckar River that runs through the middle of Heidelberg.

Now the Sargents are in the thick of a hectic basketball season that goes until April, and if Heidelberg advances in the playoffs, until the end of May.

What happens after the season ends? Clint says, “We are weighing our options right now, but more than likely we will be back in Brookings and also visiting our families in Mitchell and Sioux City. We just want to see how this season finishes out first and then this summer we’ll see how we feel about our future plans.”

But the couple never loses sight of the blessed life they are living as newlyweds in Germany.

“Getting to travel and experience all of this with your best friend in your first year of marriage is a blessing,” Clint says. “Everyone jokes with us that it is like a nine-month honeymoon and they are right.”

Wendell Maxey

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