Yelena Leuchanka qualifies for Olympics

Yelena Leuchanka already knows what it’s like to play basketball in a foreign country.

The native of Belarus played for the WVU women’s basketball team from 2003-06 under head coach Mike Carey.

She parlayed an excellent career into many professional opportunities, which started with the Charlotte Sting of the WNBA. She also played for the Washington Mystics and Leuchanka also had a stint with the Atlanta Dream, which now has another former Mountaineer player on the team in Bria Holmes.

Leuchanka has also played in Turkey, Spain, Lithuania, Russia and Poland.

The well-traveled post player has now found a home in her native Belarus. And, she’s making the most of a great opportunity.

By scoring eight points and grabbing 11 rebounds, Leuchanka helped her Belarus squad qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, to be held this August.

The team was in France this week to beat Korea in the FIBA Women’s Basketball Qualifying Tournament. Belarus also beat Nigeria, which features a former Mountaineer in Olayinka Sanni, and Argentina, but suffered two other losses, before defeating Korea when it mattered most.

According to, Leuchanka finished second on the team with 12.6 points per game and was the team’s top rebounder with 10.8 rebounds per contest. The 2006 WVU alum shot 57.4 percent from the field and dished out three assists in five games played.

Carey has had many former players remain in the game following their time in the old gold and blue. Many of the current coaches at WVU, in big time roles like Bob Huggins for the men’s basketball team and Dana Holgorsen for the football team, but also those that coach smaller level teams have been in place for quite some time and remain loyal and dedicated to the university and the Mountaineers.

There is no single person who cares for his team and his players quite like Carey does. He is hard on the girls, but the adapt to his style and they thrive under it. Seeing players like Leuchanka shows the kind of results that come out of Carey’s program.

The hard work and dedication put in for fours years in Morgantown, will pay off for a lifetime, anywhere in the world.