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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

From the MATC Childcare Center to NBA stardom

The inspiring journey of Brandin Podziemski
Photo by Christopher D’Allen
Brandin (left) and John Podziemski pose in front of MATC’s Childcare Center.

For some people, the hardest choice is believing in themselves; for others, it’s all they know. If you’ve spent any amount of time listening to MATC’s Johnny Podziemski in Printing Services, you know that his son’s confidence can move mountains. In 2023, Brandin Podziemski was a first-round draft pick for the Golden State Warriors. As a fast-rising star, most people who hear his name know him for his athleticism, but for those who watched him grow, his story is a masterclass in faith, determination, grit and self confidence.

From a young age, Johnny knew his son was special. As a toddler, Brandin displayed hand-eye coordination far above the children his age; he could throw a ball before he was two. Johnny bought him a tee-ball stand and before long he could hit the ball farther than kids twice his age. It was then that Johnny knew his son would be an amazing baseball player, especially because he was a lefty. For years, Brandin was scouted to play up on club teams, meaning he regularly competed with children one to two years older than him. 

With a promising future in baseball, a chance encounter with his church basketball team changed his entire life. While always great at baseball, Brandin was fascinated with basketball; he would sit on the couch with his dad on Saturdays and his mom on Sundays, watching the games on TV. He was so fascinated that when he got a basketball video game, he would study the way the animated players took shots and practice the same ones on the playground. In 8th grade, Brandin wanted to try something different and signed up to play with his church’s small basketball league.

Having never played basketball on an organized team, he surprised everyone when he led his team to a championship title in his first season. It was at that moment, he knew that he had found his new love. Johnny was supportive of his son, but in an interview with CBS Sports Writer, Kyle Boone, Johnny admitted that he wanted his son to fail in basketball. He pushed Brandin to play up, just like he did in baseball, thinking that the competition would come as a wakeup call, bringing him back to the the sport he had dominated since the time he took his first steps. However, Brandin was confident, and as a devout Catholic, put his faith not only in his own determination and will power, but in God first. A firm believer that he could do all things, Brandin got to work.

Even though he excelled in basketball, the recognition of his talent did not come as quickly as it did in baseball. Not everyone believed in his potential. Often overlooked by coaches and other players, Brandin took it as a challenge to push himself that much harder. After grinding to get noticed, Brandin earned the titles of Mr. Basketball Wisconsin,  Gatorade Player of the Year and Wisconsin Conference MVP. He quickly caught the attention of scouts and had to turn down 14 full ride offers including Kentucky, Miami (Fla.), Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. Brandin choose the University of Illinois where he surprisingly only averaged 1.4 points per game and played in just 16 games his freshman year. His coaches made it clear that they thought he wasn’t good enough for a Big Ten school. Knowing that his basketball career was in jeopardy, Brandin took a leap of faith and entered into the transfer portal where he received 27 offers, finally finding a good fit at Santa Clara University. Here, Brandin would average 19.9 points a game, with a career high of 38 and was named West Coast Conference Player of the Year, Best Conference Newcomer and 1st Team All Conference.

 Brandin bet on himself one more time, entering the NBA draft that same year. What seemed like overnight, Brandin had gone from a stand-out baseball player to an NBA prospect in just seven years. Brandin was the 19th overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft. Once again, Brandin is determined to prove that dreams can be more than fantasy, that hard work and determination are the first steps in making that dream come true and that with faith, all things are possible.

Before the start of the season, Brandin made a surprise visit to MATC’s downtown campus to visit his dad at work. As Johnny proudly walked the halls with his son, MATC staff, administrators, instructors and maintenance workers stopped what they were doing to congratulate the Podziemski’s and see the little Brandin that they remember on campus all grown up. Brandin made a special visit to the Mailroom where Tanya Wiedenhoeft, who greeted Brandin at the door every day when Johnny would drop him off at MATC’s Childcare, was almost moved to tears seeing him back on campus. Together they all took a walk to the Childcare Center, where many of the staff members remember watching him walk through the same halls and play on the same playground, albeit much smaller when they last saw him. 

Brandin’s visit back to campus is a reminder of what student success is all about. Even though he wasn’t a MATC student, his presence was a chance for those who watched him grow celebrate the fact that hard work still pays off.

Brandin Podziemski (center) with his MATC Chioldcare Center Teaching Staff. Left to right: Barb Fliss (K3), Angela Luse (K4), Gena Koukouras (K2) and Tanya Wiedenhoeft. Not pictured, Jenny Kempka, Bena Middlestead, Melissa Martinez and Kristin Manz. (Photo by Christopher D’Allen)

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About the Contributor
Christopher D’Allen, Editor-in-Chief
My name is Christopher D'Allen and I am the Editor-in-Chief for the MATC Times, a student run paper dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in scholastic journalism. The MATC Times stands as the voice of our students and a bastion of free speech for the communiy we represent. I joined the staff in my first semester at MATC and obtained my current position at the start of Summer '23. Here I am a photography student and hold a BA in Political Science and Spanish & Latin American Studies with a minor in Democracy and Justice Studies. I have worked an Administrative Assistant, World Language Instructor, a Head Lifeguard and Resident Assistant, but have found that my passion lies in the arts. As a photographer, I challenge myself daily to find a new perspective, capture a fleeting scene and turn moments into memories. As we work to relaunch the MATC Times website and grow our staff, I want to make joining our team as positive a learning experience and beneficial a work experience as possible. I strongly believe in the power of collaboration and inclusivity. As an Editor, I actively encourage diverse perspectives. Each student's unique viewpoint enriches our storytelling and fosters a sense of unity within our community. I aim to bridge the gap between words and images, revealing the untold stories that shape our community.