A mere two months ago, Cisti Greenwalt seemed fairly content as quite possibly the tallest waitress in the history of Clovis, New Mexico.
The 6-foot, 5-inch employee at a new eatery in town served American barbecue to customers who, no doubt, remembered her days as a stalwart basketball player for Clovis High and then Texas Tech.
She also took a shot at pro basketball career — which isn’t over just yet.
At least for the next few weeks, Chinese fare is on the plate for Greenwalt. Real Chinese food, that is, as she suits up for a team based in Qujing, China.
“I kind of was thinking about taking the whole year off,” said Greenwalt, who led Clovis to state championships in 1999 and 2000. “My agent had mentioned (the opportunity) before and it was only two-and-a-half months and it was good money.
“I just decided to do it. It’s been a good place to visit and a good place to see,” she added.
Greenwalt believes that her team is called the “Dragons” although she isn’t quite sure because of the language barrier — she is the only non-Chinese speaking player on the team.
After scoring 40 points in a game last week, Greenwalt compared the professional league she’s currently in to the one she played for two seasons in Sweden.
“The basketball is a lot better and more organized and professional,” said Greenwalt, who is provided a full-time translator. “But in Sweden they spoke English and the only person here that speaks English is my translator. He’s OK, but he’s still not that great with the basketball terms.
“The team (members) try, but nobody really knows that much,” she said. “It gets a little frustrating at times. But the thing you have to try to remember is that it’s frustrating for them too.”
Money can overcome plenty of barriers though and Greenwalt, without specifying how much she is earning in her two-and-a-half month stint, believes that it’s more than she could have earned for a whole season in the WNBA. Greenwalt played a handful of games for the Seattle Storm in 2006 and was in camp with the Chicago Storm in 2007.
The good pay and the shorter season in China has the Clovis resident thinking she would do it again if she gets the chance.
“This is a better opportunity for basketball (compared to Sweden) and I don’t really like being away for six or seven months. And the people are really nice,” she said. “You know, I can’t speak English with them, but they’re really polite and try to do what you need.”
Greenwalt anticipates returning to Clovis in late December or sometime in January.