Where Are They Now
Feb. 27, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. - Poland native and Casper College transfer Justyna Podziemska made a lasting impact on the Wyoming women's basketball program in her two seasons as a Cowgirl. The 2006-07 Mountain West Newcomer of the Year, Podziemska scored 444 points in her first season in the program to tie for 19th in UW single-season history. Her 86 three-pointers that season are the most in school history, as she shot 38 percent beyond the arc. That included seven treys at Utah, No. 2 in UW single-game history. During her senior season in 2007-08, she made 68 threes to rank sixth in UW single-season history.
Podziemska finished her career with 154 threes, sixth in UW's record books, and a 76 percent free throw rate for 11th in UW history. Defensively, she ranks 18th in single-season steals, as she registered 32 both seasons. Her 64 career blocked shots rank 11th in school history. Strong in the classroom, Podziemska was a two-time MW Scholar-Athlete with a 3.7 GPA while majoring in business economics and was named to the 2007-08 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District VII First Team. On the basketball floor, she was named to the All-MW Second Team both seasons.
What has your journey been like since you finished up at UW five years ago?
After graduating from UW in 2008, I moved to Boston and entered a two-year Master's in International Economics and Finance program at the Brandeis International Business School. After graduating in 2010, I moved to New York City, where I have been living and working since. It's hard to believe that it's already been five years since I left Laramie.
Where are you currently employed and what are your responsibilities?
I am currently employed at SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) in New York City as a Research Analyst. My day-to-day responsibilities are monitoring the corporate debt, treasury, and equity markets, writing reports that summarize market activity, keeping financial statistics and information up to date, and assisting coworkers with data they may need.
Did it take long to adjust to your new lifestyle in New York City? Outside of work, how do you spend your free time in the Big Apple? Has your family been from Poland to visit?
I come from Wroclaw, Poland, which is a relatively big city. It's nowhere close to NYC but much more similar to it than to Laramie. Also, before moving to New York, I spent two years in Boston so getting used to life here wasn't very hard. I really enjoy living in a big city. It is a bit pricey but there are many things to do and see. My favorite thing to do in my free time is, no surprise, play basketball. I play with a group of friends in a city league, which is really fun and allows me to continue doing what I love. I also like to meet with friends, go to comedy clubs, dancing, trying new gym classes like kickboxing or yoga from time to time. Recently, I've began learning how to snowboard.
You were in Wyoming for four years between Casper College and the University of Wyoming. What did you like most about living in the Cowboy State?
The thing I love the most about Wyoming are the people. Everybody is kind, open, caring and willing to help each other. I miss that. Everyone I met during my four years in Wyoming was great. I still keep in touch with my host family in Casper that helped me learn English and get used to the new lifestyle, the coaches and friends I've made over the years. Everyone was always very supportive and genuine. The second thing that I miss is the open spaces and mountains. In NYC, it's hard to escape concrete and crowds. I like being outdoors, hiking, walking in the parks and biking. Wyoming was a great place to do all of that. And the air is much cleaner than in NYC.
Outside of basketball, what impact did UW have on you as a person? Did Coach Legerski have a personal impact on you?
UW taught me a lot both on and off the court. The business program at UW prepared me very well for my graduate degree studies and my current job. I met so many wonderful people that shaped who I became as a person. Also juggling the responsibilities of a student and an athlete taught me discipline and how to work well under pressure, stay organized and motivated. Coach Joe was a big part of why the basketball program was so great at UW, not only on the court, but also the quality of players he recruited. He always treated players as adults, set a high bar for us and expected us to know how to behave. He never babysat the team and I think that had a great impact on the team. He trusted us to know better.
The Cowgirls were quite successful during your two-year tenure, winning the WNIT your junior year and going to the NCAA tournament as a senior. What are some of your favorite memories with the team?
The whole two seasons were great. I don't think I'll ever forget the line in from of the AA the morning of our WNIT championship game, the win over Kansas State after 3 OTs, our team trip to Australia, the moment when our name got called as #11 seed for the NCAA tournament, but also Thanksgivings that we spent together as a team, road trips, lots and lots of great memories. It's hard to choose my favorites.
Have you kept in touch with any of your teammates since you left Laramie?
Yes, I keep in touch with many of my former teammates and coaches. I had a chance to play with a great group of girls and with many I've stayed close friends over the years. I often talk to Dis (Elisabeth Dissen), Gemma (Koehler), and Bec (Rebecca Vanderjagt). But I would say that I keep in touch, at least once in a while, with most of my former teammates. Just recently, I went to couple "team" weddings and hosted a few girls in NYC. It's always fun when we get together and have a chance to see each other and catch up on each other's lives.
What did you enjoy about playing in the Mountain West Conference? Were there any opponents you looked forward to playing the most? Who was the best player you faced?
Playing in the MW was always competitive. I liked that all the teams were physical and tough. There were no easy games and every time we had to come ready and focused.
There were a few teams I always looked forward to playing, but each for a different reason. Kansas State was always fun to play and after they beat us with a half-court shot they became our "revenge target." Our games were always very competitive. Utah was probably a team we had the most rivalry against. We ran similar type of offense, and matched up very well against each other. We always wanted to win that one for Coach Joe. And Colorado State was our "Border War" opponent and no matter where we played it always felt like a home game. So many of our fans made the trip to Fort Collins and supported us.
The best player I faced was my teammate Hanna (Zavecz). Every time coaches matched me against her during practice, I knew I was going to be absolutely exhausted after. She was a nightmare to guard: great shooter, quick, smart, fast off the dribble, just a great, well-rounded player. I was so glad during the games we wore the same color uniform.