The beginnings weren’t easy, but it was worth it!

Karolína Nová

UI knew from my second year of high school that I wanted to get into an American university. I was playing then with older teammates who got to the USA, so I immediately told myself that I could handle it too.

Therefore I contacted an agency in the third year that helped me with the whole process. Since then, I have put all my eggs in one basket and never thought about staying in the Czech Republic and trying to combine a professional career with studying, which I think is very difficult.

My current coach at Long Island University saw me play at an international tournament in Croatia between the third and fourth years of high school. After just under two months, he offered me a scholarship.

I had more options, but unfortunately I didn't make it to Chicago because of a lack of points from the SAT test. Nonetheless, studying in New York is great and we also got to the same school with another teammate from Olymp Prague, whom I played with before leaving for the USA. And I was able to study psychology at Long Island University, which I have always wanted to study.

The beginning was not easy because I didn't believe in myself either in terms of sports or academics, but in the first year I was elected the best freshman in our conference and also made it to the second all-star team of the conference.  Now, I only need a few credits to complete my university degree. So I would recommend to everyone who is thinking about studying in the USA not to be afraid and go for it.

At the beginning, some people even discouraged me from psychology, saying it was not an easy subject. However, the entire course of study was greatly facilitated by everyone. For example, professors here talk to students as equals and try to accommodate everyone. I was thrilled with such an approach because I wasn't used to it from the Czech Republic. So I was able to handle even difficult subjects like clinical psychology without any problems.

From my friends from high school, I know that they are in school from morning until night and then they only go to train. So the training sessions are often not worth anything. I think you can't study a difficult university course and be a 100% sports professional at the same time. Here it's exactly the opposite, we have training in the morning and then school.

In addition, we can train anytime we have free time and play games in different states, which is a great experience.

I don't play in the highest quality conference, but even so, in my opinion, we face teams that are better quality than the Czech Extraliga teams. Before every season, we also play against the best university teams in the USA, from which girls regularly travel to the Olympics. That is always a tremendous experience, especially in front of five thousand spectators. Even when we lose, it's always very balanced, so it's clear that we improve here.

In general, Czech players do a great job promoting Czech volleyball at American universities. I'm in contact with almost everyone here, so we keep an eye on each other and always feel proud to represent our universities and the Czech Republic. I would like to inspire other Czech players. If they need help with anything, I'm here.

Due to COVID, I got an extra year, so I'm facing my fourth year at Long Island University, during which I will see if any other school offers me a scholarship for a master's degree, or if I'll return to Europe, where I want to play volleyball professionally. But in the Czech Republic, I would almost certainly have to continue my university studies online, which means that school would always be second place.

I already know that when I return to Europe, I will arrive with a degree in psychology and also four years of great sports preparation. But most importantly, with invaluable life experience and new friends from all over the world. All the obstacles I had to overcome were worth it!