Interview: Zuzi Klimesova

VandyMania spoke with former Vanderbilt star Zuzi Klimesova who is a rookie forward for the WNBA's Indianapolis franchise the Indiana Fever.

In her four years at Vanderbilt, Zuzi Klimesova played more minutes than any other player in Vanderbilt history. Now, as a WNBA rookie with the Indiana Fever, she's coming off the bench while she learns the tricks of the trade.

VM: Zuzi how do you like playing in the WNBA?

Zuzi: I love it. I don't know if it's our team, or the coaches, or just the overall the new experience, but ever since I came here for the first time training camp -- which, by the way, was a killer -- I've just been having so much fun. I have a lot of energy, and all they do is play basketball now. And it's such a strange feeling. Sometimes you sit on the sideline or you are in practice and then you go home and you realize, "Ohmigosh, I'm just coming back from work", and it just doesn't seem like it. It's a wonderful feeling that I get to do something that I love to do so much and don't have to worry about making money on the side, or anything like that. It's nice to come home and just have the day to relax because we work hard, and practices are intense and we try to get ready for the game, we try to do everything like in the game in practice and so it's kind of nice having the afternoon to relax.

VM: Do you practice every day?

Zuzi: We practice every day with a couple of off days here and there; whenever she [Indiana Coach Nell Fortner] can afford to give us one, she does. But it's very difficult because we play so much especially now that the season finally started. We are playing or we are traveling to a game; there's not even that much time to practice any longer, it seems.

VM: Do you have an apartment in Indianapolis?

Zuzi: Yes. We all have our own apartment. With the exception of two of us, we all live in the same complex, and I have a guest room, and a living room and a kitchen and my own room and a bathroom, and I'm excited. I've never had an apartment before. It's heaven in comparison to a dorm room. I have it all to myself. It's awesome. I've already had a couple of people over, so it's nice having that guest room because you can put people up and they can stay with you. There's not much time with all the basketball, so it's nice to be able to come home and spend time with the people that came to visit.

VM: You had a game today (Wednesday). You have a game in Washington Friday.

Zuzi: Right. So we are leaving tomorrow, and then we are coming back on Saturday morning to play New York Saturday night.

VM: Is that grueling? It's a lot of games in a short period of time.

Zuzi: It's a lot of games. However, maybe it's not as tiring for me because I'm the one doing cardio on the side. (laughter) It's a little bit different experience. It's a growing process, I think, because for the past six years, I started. I averaged 30-some minutes. Now all of a sudden I'm the one on the sidelines. I love our team, and I get just as excited as I would be if I were out there playing all this time. But it is different. It is something that you just need to learn to accept and contribute to the team in whichever way you can.

VM: After the WNBA season is over, will you try to play in Europe?

Zuzi: Definitely. I'm looking for a spot. I'm hoping that France will work out just because I don't know the language and their season is one of the shorter ones, and i would like to be able to come back right away to training camp from the beginning on and not miss any of it.

VM: It's a different world, isn't it?

Zuzi: Oh yeah. The game is a totally different level. It is so much faster. I mean, you just run, and we run, and we run some more. It's exactly the opposite of what we did at Vanderbilt. So in some ways, I feel like Vanderbilt gave me so much, and then I sometimes feel like there is so much more that I should have tried or I should have been doing or I should have been trying to learn. But then again, you play on a team, and you try to fit your role, and you do whatever is necessary for that team to win, and so it's definitely a lot of adjustments that I have to make, and there are a lot of strong people on the team, and I get to practice against them ever day. That's very very good for me because it makes me better while I'm trying to help them out to try to make it as game-like as I can. I don't know how much I succeed, but I try, because that's what I do. I'm there to help other people and make myself better in the process and hopefully when my time comes for bigger minutes, I'm going to be ready. And until then, I'm going to be cheering and hopefully losing my voice, and hopefully I can share my energy with the people on the team who are out there.

VM: Are there any ways in which the pro level is different from what you expected?

Zuzi: Definitely not. I think it is everything that I expected. And that is good for me. because i don't think I was really surprised by anything, and I think I am exactly at that point where i thought i would be. I thought that this is how it was going to be, and that's how it is. And so that's good. It's easier to deal with. When you have certain expectations, and things turn out lower, you are really disappointed, but I have learned over the past years never to expect too much. You take what you get, and you deal with it on that spot. Then anything you get extra, you're excited about. As I said, I'm definitely working hard, and hopefully I'm going to elevate my game to this level, and get myself out there.

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