On Thursday, Kelyn Soong of The Washington City Paper wrote a column on Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman and guard Kim Mestdagh. As you might have read on this site, the two players aren’t just from Belgium. They are both from Ieper*, a city in the western part of the country and less than 30 miles north of Lille, France.
But we also learned something interesting as well. From Soong’s column and the asterisk is mine:
It wasn’t until two years ago that Mestdagh caught the attention of Mystics coach Mike Thibault during the Belgian team’s bronze-medal run at the 2017 European Women Basketball Championship. Now, she’s a 29-year-old rookie and has teamed up with a player, Emma Meesseman, who grew up three streets away from her in Ypres*. Though her journey to the WNBA was vastly different, Meesseman can understand Mestdagh better than most.
Wow! Though we knew that Meesseman and Mestdagh were both from Ieper, we also didn’t know that they lived that close to each other. Soong also elaborated on their relationship, Meesseman wasn’t actually that close to Mestdagh because of their age difference.
Meesseman was actually closer to Hanne (Hahn-nuh), Kim’s younger sister who also plays for the Belgian national team.
I remember back in 2012 that Tomas Satoransky was “allegedly” brought to the Wizards so Jan Vesely, the team’s 2011 first round draft pick could have someone whom he could speak to in Czech, their native language. To some extent, the same could apply to Mestdagh’s arrival to D.C. because she speaks Dutch like Meesseman as her native language.
But Mestdagh is more “Americanized” than Meesseman in some ways. She played college basketball in America at Colorado State so she is not necessarily a total newbie to the American game. And of course, she had to attend college classes in English, not Dutch or French while playing for the Rams. Meesseman didn’t play college basketball.
Soong’s column is a great read and I won’t steal his thunder. Click on the link below to read his column in full:
* Ieper (pronounced EEPER) is the official name of the city in Dutch. In English, many Belgian Dutch-speaking cities and places are referred to by their French names. In the case of Ieper, many English speakers say the city is Ypres (pronounced EE-PRUH). Though both names are correct, we are still going by the Dutch name.