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Athlete of the Week: Ben Zielinski

An exclusive interview with Ben Zielinski whose performance on the men’s basketball team earned him a spot for Athlete of the Week.
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Photo provided by COD Athletics

Name: Ben Zielinski

Sport: Basketball

Position: Guard

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Schaumburg

High School: St. Edward Central Catholic High School

 

LG: When did you start playing basketball?

BZ: I started playing basketball probably in first or second grade in the rec league. Then I started playing AAU around fourth grade. AAU is travel basketball, so travel teams when you’re not in your school season.

 

LG: Is playing for College of DuPage what you expected? What is your favorite part?

BZ: I feel like when I came to College of DuPage I was expecting it was going to be hard work. I was looking forward to it because I didn’t really get looked at by any colleges coming out of high school. I wanted to play in college, and COD invited me to an open gym and gave me an opportunity this year. So I am really excited to make the most of it and continue to do that this year. And my favorite part is winning obviously, but I think I’ve made some really good friends on the team. It feels like this year hard work pays off, so putting in all of the hard work and seeing results is one of my favorite parts. 

 

LG: What has basketball taught you about testing your personal limits?

BZ: Basketball taught me that when you feel like you have nothing left in the tank, you always do. You always find a way to break past all your limits, even when you think you can’t go. So every day in practice, when you feel like you can’t run any farther and you can’t go any harder, you always find a way to hit the extra gear. It teaches you to really overcome adversity, I think.

 

LG: What are your greatest accomplishments in basketball?

BZ: I would say my greatest accomplishments were in high school. We had two twenty-win seasons my last two years of high school, and I was able to make all-conference two of my four years in high school. I was our conference co-MVP my senior year in high school.

 

LG: How do you manage your athletic responsibilities with school and other activities?

BZ: I think it’s pretty easy to manage this year, because I’m living at home, so I don’t have to work as often to pay for rent or anything like that. So that’s definitely a positive. It’s also nice to have practice in the morning for men’s basketball, so you can go to practice and then go to class. Then after class you can either do some homework and have a lift, or you can go home and do your homework. So it’s kind of a set schedule for me so I can plan out my days and weeks.

 

LG: Do you hope to continue playing basketball after COD?

BZ: I do hope to continue playing after COD somewhere. The goal is to go to a four-year school, wherever it may be, and keep playing.

 

LG: What do you want to study?

BZ: I want to study secondary education and math. I want to be a high school math teacher. 

 

LG: Do you enjoy any other sports?

BZ: I played football and soccer in high school, so I really like football and soccer. I played soccer when I was little and then didn’t play for like five or six years. Then my last year of high school I played soccer, and I really enjoyed doing that. That’s probably my other favorite sport outside of basketball.

 

LG: Would you want to play soccer here at COD?

BZ: I don’t want to do multi-sports. I think it’s really hard to do one as it is. I’m really focused on academics now that I’m in college. I want to continue to get better at basketball, so I need the off seasons to lift and practice my game. We have strength training pretty much throughout the year offered to us. In summer it’s not mandatory, but you can come in and continue to lift and we get runs in with the team. The gym is pretty much always open because of our managers, so there’s always an opportunity to get better here.  

 

LG: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

BZ: My favorite hobbies would definitely be hanging out with my friends. I really like to play video games, like 2K and Madden. I think sports games are really fun, especially to do the “my team” mode and build your fantasy teams. 

 

LG: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

BZ: I think I would want to go to Germany or outside of the U.S. I’ve never left the country, so I think it would be cool to go to a different country and see the culture. And I think Germany is a really pretty country, especially all of the forests there. I think it looks like it would be really cool to visit.

 

LG: What one word best describes you?

BZ: I feel like one word that best describes me is hardworking.

 

LG: Thank you very much, Ben.

BZ: Of course! Thank you. 

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