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Exclusive: Leticia Romero finds peace and joy

In part three, Leti Romero discusses her post-KSU recruiting, her experience with the Spanish National Team and how things came together for this year's NCAA Elite Eight run by Florida State. She concludes giving us a look at Leticia Romero off the court.

Photo by Perrone Ford

Swish Appeal: How did FSU come on to the radar once you were released for the second time around?

Leti Romero: "They were one of the last schools that was released [on the list]. They were releasing colleges one at a time. I was talking to some of the schools that were calling me. I was thinking about FSU because I had come here and knew them. It was one of the places I wanted to check. I didn't get a call from them because they had not been released yet.

"So it was like a period of time where I was talking to colleges and didn't know [about FSU's interests]. Coach Sue called me [after the release was granted them] and she was like nothing had happened. It was very nice to hear back from her and have a conversation."

SA: What other schools were the finalists besides FSU during the transfer process?

LR: "I was considering several of them. I could only go to visit two different schools because I had already used up three visits going to junior colleges. I chose to visit FSU and Louisville."

SA: What actually clinched it for FSU?

LR: "I had fun at both schools. I really liked Louisville, too, but I already knew the coaches here. I knew Coach Sue was that kind of coach that takes care of the players. Brooke [Wyckoff, assistant coach] was here too. When I came back and met the players and spent time with them and with Coach Sue, it was just the right fit.

"I felt like after one year I had much more experience than I had when I first came to visit FSU [out of high school]. I felt like I was looking for something different than the year before."

SA: Last summer, you were on the Spanish National Team. Can you talk a little bit about that?

LR: "It was an amazing experience for me. Even though I didn't get to play many minutes, just being there, learning from really experienced players that are playing professionally right now, it was the first time I had been with that team. I never even thought I was going to make the team last year because there are many good players there [in Spain].

"Just, even the training camp was really competitive. So, just going with them to the championship, having that kind of experience against the USA team, it was a really good experience for me. I think I learned a lot."

SA: You didn't expect to play this past season according to NCAA rules. Tell us how you found out about being granted immediate eligibility in late December.

LR: "I was at home in Spain. I knew we had asked for the waiver but you know it was way before that and we didn't have any response so I forgot about it. I really didn't have much hope. I was back home for Christmas break. The team had a road game in New Orleans [Tulane] and I was watching the game at 3 am. As soon as they finished I went to sleep.

"I woke up with a message from Coach Sue saying that she had good news. "Call me." So, I waited until she woke up. She called me back and she told me that you are playing the next game. It was a surprise because I didn't expect it. It was amazing to have that kind of news."

SA: How did that change things for you as a player? What sort of mindset does that change?

LR: "The mindset when I knew I wasn't going to play at the beginning was to get better. It was a year where I was going to have a lot of time to practice on what I'm doing and what I don't do so well [to improve]. So I was really trying to focus on getting better as well as helping the team. I knew I couldn't help them on the court in games but I could help them by being with the scout team.

"When I found out I was going to play, obviously it was coming to the team and first try to know my teammates on the court. I knew it wasn't easy for the team to have a player in the middle of the season come in and suddenly start playing. I really took the time to try to find a way to fit into the team. That was my first focus to find a role and fit into the team."

SA: As you look back on this past year at FSU what stands out for you?

LR: "I think not really being a team at the beginning of the season and not really knowing each other with transfers and newcomers [freshmen]. To be able to build a solid team in one season and do what we did, it makes me so proud. The fact that nobody thought we were going to get that far [Elite Eight], not even us at the beginning.

"We didn't know how good we could be. To go through all the steps and get to the ACC [Final], beating teams that were supposed to beat us, it is an amazing feeling."

SA: If you could, compare it (sophomore year) to your freshman year at KSU.

LR: "It is a lot different. Last year, I struggled a lot with the English. Other than that the teams were different. We struggled a lot with the team at Kansas State. I didn't think it wasn't because the team was not good but because we were really young. The starters were mostly freshmen.

"I knew we were going to get better so it was so much a learning process.  This year was different because I had a little more experience on the court. It was a whole different stage getting to the final of the ACC Tournament and to the NCAA Tournament."

SA: As you see yourself, what does Leti Romero bring to a team?

LR: "I think I try to do what a point guard should do which is run the team. I really like to make plays for my teammates, getting the team to run, the fast breaks. That's my main focus. Then I try to contribute as much as possible [in scoring]. If there is a game where I have the hot hand, I'm going to shoot it. If there is a game that I can't score the ball at all, I will try to find ways to help my teammates get open."

SA: Where do you think Leti needs to improve as a player?

LR: "Cutting down on the turnovers! That's going to be my main focus for next year."

SA: Have you picked out a college major?

LR: "Right now I'm majoring in international affairs but I'm trying to get all the requirements to change it to sports management."

SA: Any hobbies besides basketball?

LR: "I like to play any sport. Just the other day I went to play sand volleyball. Anything I can do with friends and teammates, going to the movies, chilling, having fun."

SA: In five years, Leti Romero would like to _______?

LR: "Playing basketball!"

SA: Professionally?

LR: "Yes, that is what I want to do if I have the opportunity after college."

SA: In ten years, Leti Romero would like to _______?

LR: "I really don't know what I want to be doing in 10 years, but probably be around basketball too."

SA: Leti, your English is a lot better than my Spanish. How old were you when you learned English?

LR: "My English was not good when I came over. I knew a little bit especially how to write and read. I was good at writing but in school the English they teach is like learning Spanish in school here. You don't use it and practice it enough. I couldn't even have a good conversation."

SA: So now you find it much easier to take courses in English?

LR: "Yes, definitely!"

SA: What advice would you like to give any young people in Spain about coming to America to go to college and also be an athlete?

LR: "I would tell them that it brings a lot of opportunities. It works for balancing studies and basketball. I would say to not be afraid to come. I know there are players coming more and more."

SA: Do you think there needs to be better knowledge overseas about the American game as to what it is like to come here. Is there enough information out there about the process of coming here and the different levels of play whether it would be ACC or mid-major?

LR: "I guess you can always find information but it is not really that easy to find. If you are not really into USA [college] basketball, you are not going to really know about it. It took me some time to figure out how everything really works."

SA: We could do better at this?

LR: "Yes!"

SA: Leti, thanks for your time! Continued success on and off the court!