MISSOULA — Sometimes it takes being away from home — a long way from home —- for a girl to get some clarity on what’s important in life. And what she needs to do about it.
After playing professionally in Denmark in 2014-15 and Luxembourg last fall and early winter, Jordan Sullivan — born in Sidney, raised to be a Lady Griz and Montana to the core — is back where she says she belongs.
Sullivan, who graduated with a marketing degree in May 2014, will be a first-year student in the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law when classes start next month.
“I want to be in Montana,” said Sullivan, who was on campus last week to work a girls basketball camp for her uncle and former coach, Robin Selvig. “I figured that out while I was overseas. When you’re so far away and on your own, you figure out what’s most important in life. That’s how I decided to come back.”
After a career that included 81 wins, three postseason appearances and a second-team All-Big Sky selection her senior season, her college career came to an end with a loss to San Diego in the second round of the 2014 WNIT.
She won the Little Sullivan Award that spring and spent the summer in a holding pattern.
“I wasn’t ready to be done playing, so I spent that summer waiting to hear about opportunities to go overseas,” Sullivan said.
Former Lady Griz standout Jeanne McNulty-King, who is now a sports agent, finally reached a deal in August with a team in Denmark. The season started in September.
“I didn’t expect it to be like playing for the Lady Griz, because it’s hard to match that. But it’s so different,” Sullivan said. “It’s hard when there are one or two professionals on a team and everyone else is playing for fun. Not everybody was on the same level with how important it was.
“But I’m still glad I went. I got to go somewhere I’d never been and got a chance to make a living playing basketball.”
Sullivan worked as a substitute teacher in her hometown in the spring of 2015 and worked camps across the state last summer before giving basketball one more shot.
She moved to Luxembourg for a chance with a new team, but Sullivan started to wonder if playing basketball overseas was the best use of her time. With law schools only accepting new classes once a year, a clock was ticking.
If she wanted to begin school in the fall, she had to prepare for the LSAT, which she found difficult in Luxembourg. Taking the test would have required a trip to Paris.
If she put everything off and played through March, she would have missed all the deadlines. Law school would have been put on hold until the fall of 2017.
“I talked to my coaches and told them I thought it would be best to pursue what would best help me down the road. They were understanding,” said Sullivan, who packed up in December and decamped for Sidney to begin preparing for the Law School Admission Test in February.
She isn’t convinced she did her best, but with her sterling undergraduate transcript, personal statement, letter of interest and letter of recommendation from Selvig, Sullivan got in.
While her American teammate, Samantha Guastella, was earning MVP honors in the spring after leading BBC Etzella to the Luxembourg Cup championship, Sullivan was working as a court reporter at the Richland County Law and Justice center in Sidney.
“At some point you sit over there and wonder what you’re going to do next, because I knew basketball wasn’t going to be a long-term overseas career for me. It was time to figure out what I wanted to do next,” she said.
Sullivan will have one foot in her former life -- she’ll be living this year with Lady Griz senior Rachel Staudacher and won’t miss many home games -- but mostly be part of another world, where she’ll have to purchase and pick up her own books, schedule her own classes, and pay her own way.
“That’s something I haven’t had to think about before, so I’ve had to figure that out. As an athlete you get spoiled because so much of that is done for you. Now I have to register and get my books and try to find the cheapest way to do it. You just have to look at it as an investment in yourself, I guess,” she said.
She doesn’t know where law school will lead, and she kind of likes it that way.
“Business law is something that interests me. International law, too. Being a sports agent down the road would be awesome. I’m hoping it’s like undergrad. You get in there and get pulled in one direction because you really like something.”