You never know when your sports career will end. A title in the USA is a great insurance.

Sára Olivová

For young athletes from the Czech Republic who have ambitions of studying, the American university path is the best. Nobody can know how long his or her athletic career will last, so getting a scholarship and education is just great for the next stage of life.

Even considering that not everyone can make a living from sports. I would recommend the university path to everyone because the experience is great and the conditions for athletes are actually better at many universities than in several national teams.

I think it's ideal if young players can consult with someone before choosing a university because the level of beach volleyball across universities is different. Additionally, everyone prefers something different, some may prefer to study in a warmer place, while others may prefer a bigger city or different environment. So it is ideal when they can consult with someone before making a decision.

I would have liked it myself if I had someone to consult with. Maybe I would have made a different decision in the past. In my opinion, it is important to have a mentor who has gone through the university path. That is simply priceless.

In the Czech Republic, the players are at a very high level, so they should aim to get to the American universities with the best facilities for beach volleyball. This is to maintain their chances of  breaking through after university among the professionals. After all, Americans Sara Hughes, Kelly Claes, and Canadian Sophie Bukovec all went through the university system.

On the other hand, there are also many opportunities in the USA for players who are not at the absolute top level and who do not plan a professional career after school. Even so, they can get a scholarship, education, and continue with what they love. This is unbeatable.

If someone is very good academically, they can target elite schools from the Ivy League. If someone has high athletic ambitions, then they should look at the ten universities that are best for beach volleyball.

In retrospect, I assess that my university years were absolutely amazing when compared to my career as a professional athlete after school. The university provided me with better services, care, and a system. I had a coach, physiotherapist, clothing, and everything I needed for sports at my disposal. Additionally, I gained an education and was part of something that unfortunately doesn't exist in our country.

The university also helped me with time management. I would wake up at 6 a.m., go to training, then have a lecture, physiotherapy, more lectures, and an afternoon training session. You learn independence, how to work as a team, how to communicate, and I remember we even had lessons on how to present ourselves and generally communicate, which also helped me in my future life.

Even though I no longer play beach volleyball professionally, I started my own business in nutritional consulting, which I wouldn't have been able to do without a university education. When I was around 20, I focused mainly on sports and didn't give much importance to school. When I compare this to girls who only played beach volleyball and didn't study, I have an advantage. I wish every Czech player had the same opportunity that I had.