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Women’s basketball: Lobo senior spends her summer as a globetrotter

Traveling violations during the offseason? Emily Lines would have to plead guilty.

Lines, a 6-foot-1 rising senior forward for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team, is spending the final few weeks of summer in her native Florida. The trip home was her shortest of the offseason — by far.

Since the spring semester ended, Lines has spent much of her time visiting distant points on the globe. Her summer itinerary featured stops in Norway, Iceland and China.

“It’s been pretty crazy — but amazing,” Lines said. “Between school and basketball we’re so busy during the year that sometimes you just want to relax. But when you get a chance to see places like these, you know it might never come again.”

Lines’ first excursion of the summer, in late May, had nothing to do with basketball. Her two-week trip to Norway and Iceland was strictly vacation, though it did prove educational.

“One of my good friends from high school was an exchange student from Norway,” Lines said. “She’s a college student in the U.S. now, but she was given a semester abroad that was technically at home for her. I’d always wanted to visit her, so two friends and I took advantage of it.”

Lines and her group explored Oslo and Bergen and hiked through some of Norway’s high country, where her basketball-specific wardrobe showed its limitations.

“It was beautiful and the weather was absolutely perfect, mid-80s,” she said. “But we weren’t too well-prepared for hiking. We were wearing our Nikes and got into some snow, which wasn’t such a good mix.”

The group was better equipped for several days in Iceland, which Lines said lived up to its chilly reputation. They stayed in the capital city of Reykjavik and ventured out to see as many sights as possible, including scenic Glacier Lagoon.

“It honestly feels like another planet,” Lines said. “It’s so beautiful, but the volcanic landscape and the glaciers are like nothing I’d ever seen. There’s one highway around the perimeter and that’s where almost everyone lives. The whole center of Iceland is glacier.”

The Naples, Fla., 21-year-old was admittedly out of her element.

“It was rainy and windy the whole time,” Lines said with a grin, “and this was summer. It wasn’t even cold by their standards. I don’t think I’d last long over there.”

Late June brought a dramatic change of climate and location. After visiting cold, sparsely populated regions, Lines traveled to densely populated China to help instruct at a youth basketball camp.

Lines worked at a similar Chinese camp in 2017, accompanying her mother and high school coach, Jen Lines. The camps serve students in China’s High School Basketball League (HBL), and coaches are brought in by invitation only. They are not allowed to divulge where the camps are held.

“This one was in a big city in eastern China,” Lines said. “That’s as much as I can say. You have to get a travel visa and fill out forms to explain the reasons you’re going, but the people are really great once you’re there.”

Lines was one of 12 instructors working with roughly 30 young players ages 6-12. She does not speak Chinese and many of the campers spoke little or no English.

“There were translators,” Lines said, “but getting some of those rowdy little boys to listen to us wasn’t easy. There were only three girls in the camp and they actually listened. No surprise, right?

“But having played basketball for so long, it’s cool being able to share some knowledge and skills. I felt like I was giving back.”

The China trip required Lines to miss a few of UNM’s summer practices, but oach Mike Bradbury encouraged Lines to go.

“That’s the person Emily is,” he said. “The things she does to help people and just be involved are incredible. She’s a perfect representative to go work with kids in China.”

Lines returned to Albuquerque to finish summer classes and workouts with her team. The math major is on track to finish her degree but has not yet turned her focus to life after UNM.

“I’m really excited about this season,” she said. “Our team has a lot of talent and everyone gets along well. I’m optimistic. My goal is to win a Mountain West championship while I’m here, so I guess it has to be this year.”

Lines has played both guard and post during her UNM career and says she’s game for whatever role Bradbury has in mind. She’s a career 41-percent shooter from 3-point range, but Lines said she actually prefers playing power forward when the opportunity arises.

Bradbury said Lines’ on-court position for this season has yet to be determined. But with a slew of young players and first-year Lobos on the roster, he expects the senior to play an important role.

“Everyone here looks up to Emily, myself included,” Bradbury said. “She’s always going to do whatever she can to help, basketball-related or not. She’ll be a great senior leader. There’s no doubt about that.”