NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — For New London native and Puerto Rico National Basketball player India Pagan, basketball wasn’t exactly love at first sight.
“At first, I really didn’t like basketball. I guess my dad, he recently told me a story that I cried the first time they put me in basketball,” Pagan said.
Pagan went on to say that about a week later she fell in love with the game.
Now 22, Pagan also became very good at the game. She attended Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton. There was a slight problem — they didn’t have a basketball team, so Pagan was allowed to play for her hometown school, New London High.
Once there, she was so good, she was named player of the decade by the New London Day. She led the Whalers to three state finals and the 2017 state championship. She was a two-time All-State selection.
Pagan was invited to play for the Puerto Rican Jr. National U-18 team, and her international career was underway.
Pagan has made her mark as a member of the Stony Brook basketball team. Last year, she became the 18th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points.
Last month, Pagan was named to the Puerto Rican Women’s Basketball team and competed in the Japan Olympics.
Based on what she told News 8 this week, she is still pinching herself over the experience.
“I can’t put it into words. It’s still surreal to me. I’m just getting back yesterday [Wednesday]. Still getting teary eyed about the experience,“ Pagan said.
Pagan would like to someday play in the WNBA. She may or may not get to realize that dream, but then again, what’s bigger than playing in the Olympics?
“It’s honestly the biggest stage,” Pagan said. “Even higher than the WNBA and the NBA.”
Once in Japan, Pagan, a self-described “little social butterfly,” met a lot of the other athletes.
When asked about the Opening Ceremony, well, you get the idea — it may have been among her biggest thrills.
“I cried four times because I could not believe that I was there. The fireworks, the music. It was so impactful. The dances, everything that they had. It was so beautiful,” Pagan said. “I know you guys probably saw on TV. I’m getting goosebumps again. My phone storage is full. I took videos, I took everything.”
“I just wanted to enjoy every single moment of that Opening Ceremony.”