Dani Milisic dribbled down the court and shot the basketball. The ball went through the net and the 7-year-old girl cheered as she scored her first basket ever. It wasn't until after the game that her dad, Mick, told her she scored on her own team's basket.
"I hated basketball at first. I was terrible," Milisic, the current 6-foot-4 center for Southern Cal, said.
The first league Milisic played basketball in was located in her hometown, Sydney, Australia. She didn't realize at the time that the game she originally hated would lead her across the Pacific Ocean on an athletic scholarship.
But why travel thousands of miles to play basketball for USC?
For Milisic, going through the trials of a student was only justified if she was competing in the highest caliber of women's basketball. According to her, despite the added challenges of being an international student-athlete, playing for the Trojans is worth it.
When she started playing basketball for Blacktown Girl's High School, in Australia, her coach Bernie Slattery encouraged her to play for teams overseas. He felt that the leagues in America were at a higher level than the teams she was playing on.
"Dani was an untapped talent, and her potential to be good was obvious," Slattery said. "It was a big decision for her to move to America, but it was the best thing she could have done for her career."
After playing on a national team for a few years, Milisic started to be recruited by schools all over the United States. Her father said that before accepting her offer from USC, she was offered scholarships by over 50 schools, including Duke and Oregon.
"People are shocked to hear we rejected other top schools," Mick said, "but there's something about this place we're drawn to."
Although her former coach, Cynthia Cooper Dyke, referred to her as "a highly confident, highly motivated athlete," the choice to play in America hasn't been challenge free.
Almost 10,000 miles away from her home, Milisic realized there are additional obstacles that come with being an international student-athlete.
"It's hard and expensive to come out here," Milisic said. "I'm a big family person and my family's very close, so not interacting with them every day is really difficult."
Her supportive parents are only able to come out to the opening weekend of season every year, an experience that's different from her high school career.
Aside from missing her family, Milisic said she is still getting used to the culture in America. Things like taxes and California traffic remind her that she's not home in Australia.
But playing in the United States has shown her there are many opportunities for women in sports that were not available in her hometown.
"In Australia, we have more of a taboo on women's sports," Milisic said. "I think we need more women to come out and show Australia how good we are and how hard we work."
Miliisic is using her career to encourage talented female athletes in other countries to come to America. She hopes to accomplish this alongside her other international teammate Candela Abejón.
Abejón is from Gijon, Spain. She is in her third season as a Trojan. Her parents haven't been able to travel to USC to watch their daughter play yet.
Abejon was inspired to play basketball by her father, Pedro, who was a coach when she was growing up. Not having him in the stands to cheer her on has been hard to get used to.
"The things I miss the most are my family and the little streets you can walk around with no danger," Abejon said. "It felt safer there, especially with my family by my side."
According to Abejon, the recruiting process is difficult for Spanish basketball players. When she was in high school, she paid to have talent videos made by the National Scouting Report in order to be seen by scouts in the United Sates.
Although she dealt with the challenges of recruiting, Abejon has found there are many positives associated with coming to America. One thing she likes is the ability to play sports at a high level while being able to pursue an education. In Spain, she said, people are often forced to pick one option or the other.
As an electrical engineering major and talented basketball player, Abejon has been able to achieve both after being recruited by USC.
"Candela personifies the term student-athlete," Jason Glover, USC's associate head coach, said. "She not only is a good basketball player with a high GPA, she is an even better person who is a joy to coach."
And Abejon has contributed so far. The 6-foot-1 guard has a consistent three-point shot, and hit a key one in USC's victory over Hawaii in the 2016-2017 season.
Despite the comfort she's felt on the court, one thing that was difficult in her transition to the U.S. was the language barrier.
"I thought my English was much better until I got here," Abejon said. "It's been years and I'm still not completely used to this country. I still learn something every day."
As the two international athletes look forward to the 2017-2018 season, Misilic noted that the program's coaching change brought a new culture and attitude to the team.
Both girls hope to step into a leadership role this season, especially in big rivalry games against teams like UCLA.
"We have a lot to prove and that's always exciting," Abejon said.