Basketball Beyond Borders


Diversity goes beyond race and religion. Cultural backgrounds play a huge role in diversity. At Pinewood, there are multiple students who have unique cultural backgrounds that add to the diverse campus. Sophomores Deana Kajmakovic and Klara Astrom both have familial connections to different countries, connections that affect their lives at home at school.

Kajmakovic’s family is 100 percent Serbian, and her parents were born in the city of Sarajevo of the former Yugoslavia.

At home, Kajmakovic speaks Serbo-Croatian. To stay connected to her culture, Kajmakovic is also a part of a Serbian Orthodox Church in Saratoga.

This summer, Kajmakovic had the opportunity to get even more involved in the Serbian culture through journalism. Kajmakovic interviewed players from around the world to write an article in Prep2Prep, a high school sports news site, about how basketball is different outside the United States.

Following the theme of international sports, Astrom played for the Swedish U16 national basketball  team. Astrom’s entire family is Swedish, and she and her two brothers were born in Sweden.

When Astrom moved to the U.S. seven years ago, she believed the U.S. was just another word for “Disneyland” since she had only been in the states once before: to visit Disneyland.
“I was extremely excited to move, thinking that I would ride roller coasters for the rest of my life and get to skip school. I even ran out on my balcony and yelled to the world that I was moving to Disneyland,” said Astrom.

At home, Astrom stays connected to her Swedish roots by speaking a mixture of Swedish and English at home. Astrom has learned to be self-sufficient when it comes to school work because her parents aren’t able to help her.

Astrom’s journey to the U16 Swedish national basketball team began last year, with a camp in Sweden which acted as a form of tryout. Astrom then traveled with the team to Finland, where her U16 team won the Nordic Championships, going undefeated, and Astrom was selected for the all-star team as the starting shooting guard. Her team also ended up in Udine Italy to play the European Championships A Division.

Following this, Astrom also traveled with the team to Udine, Italy to play the European Championships A Division.

Kajmakovic and Astrom both have cultural ties that bring a diverse flare to the Pinewood campus.