Athlete of the Week Archive

Dec. 4, 2006


Qwest Wyoming Home

Justyna Podziemska

Talk about how you got from Poland, to Casper, Wyoming to start your college basketball career.
"It was a really interesting deal because I didn't really plan on coming to the United States to play basketball, but I ended up having a friend who came over and played and she ended up being an assistant coach at Casper College for two years, so she contacted me and said she was looking for a post player. I had already had everything set up in Poland to go to school and when she called me I said `yeah that's what I want to do'. Had I stayed in Poland, I would have had to quit playing basketball when I got to college."

Are athletics and school interconnected in Poland like they are here, or is it set up differently?
"Oh no. In Poland, basketball and school are separated. Athletics is not connected with the school. We have the university league, but it's kind of like the intramural leagues here. So, it's hard to combine the two after high school."

What are some of the differences you've noticed between basketball in Poland and here at Wyoming?
"Well, the main difference between basketball back home in Poland and here is that it's more physical. People put more emphasis on strength and preseason preparation over here. Those things aren't as big of a deal in Poland because in Poland we pay more attention to technique and plays. Some of the rules are different as well. Our three point line is further away and we have eight seconds to cross the half court line, so it's a little different."

What are some of the differences you've noticed between junior college basketball at Casper and Division-1A here at Wyoming?
"There are some differences between the two. Mainly, I think the level of competition is one of the biggest differences. I think the people are much more competitive; even within the team. Practices are much more competitive. You have to bring your `A' game every single day; it's not like you can have a day off."

Is there a specific player that you try to model yourself after?
"Actually yeah. There is a player from Poland named Agnieszka Bibrzycka and she plays for the WNBA here in the States and she's kind of the player that I try to follow and try to see what she's doing and how she plays."

What are you majoring in?
"I am majoring in economics."

What do you plan on doing with your degree?
"I eventually want to run my own company; hopefully in the field of business advisory and management of human resources. But I know that to get that point, I'll have to get some experience. After college, I would like to stay here for one or two years and work and then go back to Europe and work there; try to get some international experience."

Do you think that Europe is the better fit for you?
"I think that I will be in Europe just because it's closer to my family. It's kind of hard staying the whole year without seeing anybody that's close to you, so that's why I think Europe will be better for me; not necessarily Poland, but if I could fly like three hours and be home, then that would be easier for me."

Have you been anywhere in the U.S. that is similar to your hometown in Poland?
"I don't really know that because I've not had a chance to travel around too much. I've been to California and then the Wyoming and Colorado area. I really haven't found a place that is similar yet. It's just so different; the culture is different. The downtown areas are different and what people do is different, so no; it's just a different culture."

Tell us about how you developed the ability to play the piano?
"I started playing when I was seven or eight. I really wanted to play the piano; it was kind of a childhood dream I guess. Then I went to a music school where you go and play for like three hours after your full day of regular school. There I had a teacher that taught me about music and how to play. I did that for four years and then I quit and I really regretted it, but I still play now because I have a piano in my house, so it's kind of like a passion that I come back to whenever I want to."

Is there a food in the U.S. that you like that you can get in Poland?
"I can't really think of any specific foods here that I like that you can't get back home. Oh, it's kind of funny, I would have to say ranch dressing. You can't get that back home and I really like it."