Squash has taken me to great places, sports and school go hand in hand in America.

Natálie Babjuková

The entire system is set up to perfectly balance high-level sports and study. Sports are simply part of university life and study, so professors respect this. Lectures are adapted so that every athlete has time for training. During the exam period, there is no training so that athletes can concentrate solely on their studies.

Every athlete at the university can perform their sport at a high level, mainly thanks to excellent coaches, physiotherapists, and great facilities. This allows them to progress. The degree then gives each person the option of pursuing a professional sports career or choosing a different path. In contrast, balancing sports and study in the Czech Republic is relatively difficult, as professors do not take sufficient consideration of the fact that some students are training professionally.

The level of Squash in American schools is high and improving. The best university teams have players who have professional experience and are ranked very high. Each university team has nine players, male and female. In total, there are 66 men's and 42 women's teams in the USA, providing space for players who do not have professional experience or do not plan to become professionals.

Undoubtedly, the university system has produced world-ranked squash players such as Amanda Sobhy (currently world No. 4), Georgina Kennedy (No. 8), and Olivia Fletcher (No. 10). On the men's side, the current world No. 1 Ali Farag, No. 11 Youssef Ibrahim, and No. 18 Victor Crouin. In addition, university teams train legends like Thierry Lincou, David Palmer, and John White, all former world No. 1s.

It definitely helps to have someone to advise you when making decisions. When I applied to a university in the USA, I didn't know anyone from the Czech Republic who had gone through the entire process. I was the first Czech squash player to choose the American path.

Nowadays, the trend is for young people to apply to multiple universities at once to increase their chances of being accepted. However, it can be difficult to determine which university would be ideal for them. That's exactly the moment when it's necessary to consult with someone.

It is important for every promising squash player to start thinking about their future ahead of time. Already during the third year of high school, it is necessary to communicate with coaches and prepare for all necessary admission procedures.

Anyway, it is worth it because I have the most beautiful memories from the four years at university. I gained not only a diploma, victories in the university squash competition, or a perfect command of English, but also many lifelong friendships, a broader perspective, a comparison with the Czech Republic, an understanding of cultural differences, and a diversity of opinions. I became independent and built my personality. These are all incalculable values that I appreciate the most.

I would like to inspire other Czech athletes to have the opportunity to experience a great experience from which I will personally benefit for life. The university path has opened up many opportunities for me.