Aug. 30, 2007
BERKELEY - California freshman forward/guard Kelsey Adrian started classes this week along with the Golden Bears' other newcomer, Rachelle Federico. Adrian, who is a member of the Canadian National team, spent the summer playing for her country in Brazil and China after finishing her last year of high school as a member of the National Elite Development Academy. The 6-1 product of Langley, B.C., Canada, sat down with CalBears.com to talk about her basketball background, the national team and her other interests.
CalBears.com: Why did you decide to attend Cal?
Adrian: "When I came to visit, it felt just right. The basketball team here is good. I love the team and the coaches. It's a great school. I want to go into business, and the Haas School of Business is one of the best."
CalBears.com: Have you spent much time in California?
Adrian: "I went to L.A. when I was really young and I've been to Cal for one of their tournaments before and then I came on an unofficial and official trip. Those are the only times I've been to Cal. I live about 10 minutes from the border, so we frequently go to Washington and Seattle a lot."
CalBears.com: Where is the National Elite Development Academy in relation to where you are from in Canada?
Adrian: "I'm from Vancouver, which is on the West Coast. They started a national basketball school in Ontario, which is closer to the East Coast. So, for my senior year, I flew across country and stayed there for a year. They matched us with families who live in the area, and they took our team in. We each had a family to ourselves.
"Luckily, I had second cousins living there, so I stayed with them, and I got to know family on the East Coast that I didn't really know before. We lived away from home, from our families back home, but we had another family there. It's not exactly dorm-style living where you're all by yourself."
CalBears.com: Do you have any nerves about starting college?
Adrian: "Yes, definitely, just because being in Canada you don't know much about American schools. Canadian schools are nothing like here with the big events. They get into a sport but not like here. Football games are packed here, and it's not like that there. Hockey is big, but I don't know if universities have hockey teams in Canada. The only big hockey is the NHL."
CalBears.com: Do you like hockey?
Adrian: "I like hockey, but I can't play it that well. I never really got into it, but I enjoy watching it sometimes. The Vancouver Canucks are my favorite because that's where I'm from."
CalBears.com: How did you become a part of the Canadian national team system?
Adrian: "We have actual steps in Canada that you go through. You basically start out by playing on a regional team, and then from there you can get picked to play on a provincial team. From the provincial team, you can play on the national team. We have U19, U21 National team, development and senior. You normally go up like that, but for me, two years ago, I first played on the national team, and I made the cadet team. We came down to Colorado Springs, and that was the first year the youth development festival let Canadians in. It was a week long, and we were Team Canada, and there were four U.S. teams we played against.
"The summer after that, last summer, I played on the U19 team, and it was a world-qualifying year. Right from there, I went and tried out for the senior team. The coach of the team lives in B.C., and she works out with us a lot. So, she said, 'We're going to invite you to try out with us and get the experience.' And, so I thought, maybe she just wants me there to practice with them just for the first training camp and then go home.
"They have three phases where you can get cut. I made it through the first phase, and I was still on the team. We had an exhibition game against Brazil, and then I thought, Well, I'm playing a bit here. Maybe I'll stay. I made it to the next round, and we went to Europe, and then I was still on the team, and I made it to the next phase, and that was Worlds. Obviously, it was exciting to make it to Worlds, and I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, how am I doing this? I'm 16-years-old.' It was an amazing experience for me. Last year was my first real year of playing for the national team."
CalBears.com: Are you still the youngest on the team?
Adrian: "Last year, it was a lot harder than this year just because I was 16. I had never played with women that old before, and we had women who had kids on our team, who were married. The oldest, I think, was 32, last year. This year, we're a bit younger and I'm a year older, so I knew what it was like, and I kind of got used to it and knew what to expect. Our oldest this year is 28. It's not so bad. The next closest to me is 22. At the Pan-Ams, we were the youngest team there. I'm used to being with older women now."
CalBears.com: Do they give you a hard time about your age?
Adrian: "Yes, they like to bug me a lot. They call me `Junior.' That's my nickname because I'm the youngest. Last year, I was going back to high school for another year, and they were like, `Oh, yeah, you're still in high school.' If they said something funny, they'd say, `Oh, don't worry, you'll learn about that next year in high school.'"
CalBears.com: What was it like going to the National Elite Development Academy? What were your days like?
Adrian: "For me, it wasn't that big of a transition because in high school, we practiced a lot. We were the top team. We won Provincial, which is like winning the state championship. We won that three years in a row, so I was used to training at a high level.
"So when we went to NEDA, it was basically like the same thing. We'd get up at six every morning and we'd practice from 7 until 9:30 a.m., and then if you had class, you'd go to class, and if you didn't, you could stay and shoot or do individual workouts, so I'd stay until 10:30 am. Then, I'd go get lunch and head to class that started at 1 and ended at 2:45. Then, we'd head back to the gym at 3:30 for conditioning or weight lifting until 5 and then we'd go home and do homework. That was basically everyday because we didn't have any games. We had the weekends off if we didn't have tournaments."
CalBears.com: Did you play in a lot of tournaments?
Adrian: "No, out of the whole year, we ended up having, I think, 28 games or so, and that was the whole year. Normally in high school, you'd have fall league then your high school games and then spring league, and you had to play over a hundred games. We didn't play a many girls' teams; we played usually all-guys' teams. We started out playing university teams and beat all of them - Canadian university teams -- and it didn't look good for them. [They said], `Oh, we're not going to play you. It doesn't look good for us. We won't gain anything from it. It just makes us look bad by getting beat by high schoolers.' So they didn't want to play us, and we couldn't play other high schools because we'd kill them, and it wouldn't help us at all. We ended up playing guys' teams."
CalBears.com: Were you required to try out again for the senior national team this summer?
Adrian: "You get invited back and then every summer you have to try out again. So the first tryout was June 15, I think."
CalBears.com: What happened after you went for the first tryout this summer?
Adrian: "They kept about 15 girls, and we trained during that phase. There are about three days of tryouts for everybody. We had all the teams there--U19, U21 and senior - and then they put you into groups where you compete. We had about 15 girls, and the coach told the ones who were not going to come to Pan-Ams with us, `You can train with us now, and then maybe next year you'll make the team.' Then she took 12 of us to Pan-Ams in July in Brazil and that was an experience.
"I got eaten alive by bugs. I got over a 110 bug bites, and I still have a few scars from them."
CalBears.com: Were the bites from mosquitos?
Adrian: "They're not sure. My roommate and I got bit so bad because all these bugs came in through the air conditioning unit. We don't know what they were. They were little red dots at first, and I reacted to them, and they swelled up like huge mosquito bites. It looked like chicken pox because I had them all over my face and arms."
CalBears.com: Were you playing with spots all over?
Adrian: "Luckily, the night it happened was the day before our last game, so it was only for one game. We were there for a couple more days after that, but everyone was just staring at me and asking, `What's wrong with her?' I was coming back through customs and the security people asked, `Are you ok?' I said, 'I'm fine. Don't worry about it.'"
CalBears.com: How did your team do at Pan-Ams?
Adrian: "We came in fourth. We were hoping to medal, but we lost to Cuba in the bronze-medal game. To qualify for the Olympics, they're one of the teams we have to beat. We're ok because if we don't beat them now, we'll wait and hopefully beat them in qualifiers."
CalBears.com: Will you compete in the Olympic qualifying tournament?
Adrian: "I'm not going to it. It's at the end of September, so the team is still training right now to get ready."
CalBears.com: But you're hoping to play in the Olympics?
Adrian: "Oh, yeah, I'm hoping to go."
CalBears.com: How did you do individually at Pan-Ams? Did you start?
Adrian: "I started all the games. I played okay. I think I've done better, but defensively I thought I did well."
CalBears.com: After Pan-Ams, when did you get back?
Adrian: "We got a couple of days off, a week or so, and then we trained in B.C. before we left for China. And then in China, we played China, Latvia and Cuba was there again, and we lost them all, but they were close games. Then, I had to leave before the playoffs."
CalBears.com: Have you travelled a lot because of basketball?
Adrian: "Yes, because of basketball, that's the whole reason I travel anywhere. We went to Paris quite a few times because we went with the senior team and then with NEDA, we went there. I've been to Belgium, Czech Republic and Spain, and to China and Brazil in the past year."
CalBears.com: Let's talk about your other interests - What else do you enjoy doing?
Adrian: "Just reading, studying. I like other sports, too. In high school, I played soccer, cross country and volleyball. I enjoy plenty of sports, just hanging out with friends. I love watching movies, too."
CalBears.com: What's your favorite type of movie?
Adrian: "I love comedies and romantic comedies."
CalBears.com: Were you good at any of the other sports you played?
Adrian: "I was pretty good at soccer and volleyball. I was really into soccer when I was younger; it was my first sport. I thought maybe I'd go to a university for that."
CalBears.com: How did you get your start in basketball?
Adrian: "My dad is a coach. My dad and my mom both played when they were in high school. My dad coached so he started out me and my sister at a young age. He always ran camps for my friends, so it just progressed from there."
CalBears.com: How old were you when you started playing basketball?
CalBears.com: Have you ever thought about asking Coach Boyle if you could try out for another team here, and be a two-sport athlete, or would that not be a possibility?
Adrian: "I think, just looking at the schedule and all the practices, it would be way too difficult to play two sports."
CalBears.com: Describe your game.
Adrian: "I see the floor really well. I can find the open player. I can take it on if I find I'm open. I think I'm a good shooter. If I'm playing someone shorter than me, I can take them inside."