Junior forward Hana Vesela is proving to be a difference-maker in her first year at Cal Poly. The Michigan State transfer leads the Mustangs in scoring with 11.1 points per game. The Czech Republic native scored a season-high 19 points, picked up four rebounds and dished out three assists on Feb. 6.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Mustang News: You played your best game of the season against Long Beach State on Wednesday, have you grown more comfortable with the team?
Hana Vesela: I haven’t really played for the past two years. At Michigan State I was getting limited minutes, so coming here, I knew I was going to be in a leader-type position, so I had to adjust to that. It was tough in the beginning, just playing with the team and getting the chemistry going. It was nice to play against Long Beach, kind of feel comfortable, being calm and knowing what my shots are and what teammates I can find to get them open. It was nice to finally feel comfortable.
MN: How have you adjusted from being from the Czech Republic, playing at Michigan State and now Cal Poly?
HV: It was a culture shock, for sure, when I came to Michigan State. Everything was new and I was missing the family a lot. But coming to California was the biggest difference, because of the weather and the school is super cool and super nice and everything is much happier here.
MN: What has the support from the Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo community been like?
HV: When I go to the store, because of my height, they usually assume I’m a basketball player, so it’s kinda like ‘oh, Cal Poly!’ It’s really nice. I like the smaller type of city.
MN: We heard that you didn’t want to come to Cal Poly at first
HV: Oh, lord … oh, you know about it.
MN: Yeah, could tell us about your journey of transferring here?
HV: That’s kind of a funny story, when I decided to transfer, I was really hoping to go to Los Angeles. I found on Wikipedia that Cal Poly Pomona is really close to L.A. So I thought, “oh my gosh, so cool. I’m going to send an email over there and see what’s up.” But my host mom was sending the emails for me, and she thought I was talking about this Cal Poly. So she kind of made a mistake, but it was my bad actually, because I didn’t know Pomona was a [Division II] school and I wasn’t interested in that. So she sent the email to [head coach Faith Mimnaugh]. Coach Faith called me after and I was like, “oh, Cal Poly … I didn’t mean that one!” but she was like, “well you have to come anyway! Just visit us.” So I took the visit, and it was amazing, and I fell in love with the school and the staff and the players.
MN: So what was your first impression on your visit?
HV: I really didn’t want to come, even on a visit. Actually, this school was like my last choice. But coach Faith, she just didn’t stop calling me. She was like “oh my gosh, you’ve really got to come here, we’re 20 minutes from the beach, it’s like a life changing experience.” And I was like, “oh yeah, of course, they’re lying.” But I knew they were paying for it so I wasn’t going to spend any money, so why not. Coach Faith was so happy that I came. When I got here, I was like, “oh, man I really like it, that’s crazy.” I wanted to go to LA but I really loved it here.
MN: What about Cal Poly did you really like?
HV: I was really focused on the relationships with the coaches and the players. They were super welcoming. I have been through the recruiting process before and I kind of know it’s all about business, but here I really got a different vibe. And of course the weather is really nice.
MN: How were you welcomed to the team?
HV: I came in the middle of the season and I was really worried about that, but everybody was so nice, surprisingly. They were so happy to see me finally … we bonded super quickly.
MN: What has been your favorite moment at Cal Poly?
HV: I guess bonding with the players and thinking about the future. I think we have a really nice bond here with everybody. Of course the winning, I love being hyped and I love to win. Winning games is really fun.
MN: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
HV: Just to be calm and take one second before I make any decision. From [assistant head coach Kristina Santiago Bennett]
MN: So we asked your teammates for some funny questions to ask you. How many times do you eat bagels a week?
HV: Oh my gosh! Yeah, so it’s like my favorite food. I eat it every day for breakfast and for dinner. With cream cheese. You know, you save a lot of money if you think about it.
MN: What’s the weirdest American food combo?
HV: Oh my gosh, okay, so weird, I still don’t get it. It’s putting mint into ice cream or chocolate. Who does that? It’s so weird, I still don’t get it, like, who likes it?
MN: Have you tasted it before?
HV: Yeah, it’s weird! The combination is like putting gum into ice cream. So weird.
MN: Is there anything else you want people to know about you?
HV: I’m really shy at first, and then I’m really fun and I can sing. That’s all I got.
MN: Do you want to sing something for us now?
HV: No! Maybe next time. I’ll prepare.