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Balancing the lifestyle of a professional athlete while pursuing future education

by WoV

As we all know the importance of proper education, more and more professional athletes are getting their diplomas, to prepare for life after their athletic careers are over.

Croatian Women's Volleyball National Team

Croatian Women’s Volleyball National Team

One of the examples of balancing college studies along with being a professional volleyball player, we can find within the Croatian national team, so we talked with a few of their players.

Which college do you attend and why did you choose that particular one?

Rene Sain: “I am on my first year at DOBA Business School in Maribor, pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Social media and Public Relations. I heard many positive things about this school, it is highly adaptable and optimized for studying online, which is ideal for us athletes.”

Lea Deak: “I am a freshman at Edward Bernays University College, currently on Communication Management Undergraduate program. I chose this college because it is adaptable due to my obligations at the club, so all the professors are really supportive and always ready to help if I missed some classes.”

Fran Peterlin: “Currently, I am in my third year at University College Aspira, studying Sports Management. I decided to enroll at Aspira because I always wanted to study something related to sports, so I think I chose well.”

Božana Butigan: “As my teammate Lea, I also chose Edward Bernays. I heard a lot of positives about this college from other students, about its adaptability to tight schedules of professional athletes.”

Ema Strunjak: “This year I enrolled at Libertas International University, where I study Sports Management. The main reason I chose this university is that it allows me to play volleyball abroad and study in Croatia at the same time. Also, the Sports Management program really interests me.”

Kruno Nikačević: “I am in my fifth year at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, studying History, Russian Language and Literature. Working in a school is something that was always interesting and challenging for me, so this program was ideal for me. Since I was a kid, history interested me along with Russian literature, as the main reason I chose to study Russian at the University.”

Katarina Pavičić: “Currently, I am in my second year at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb. I enjoyed sports since I was a little kid, so I decided to pursue my education in the field of sports, educating and encouraging other people about the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle.”

Nikolina Božičević:Also, I am a freshman at DOBA Business School in Maribor, enrolled in Marketing, Social media and Public Relations program. I chose this faculty precisely because the entire program is done online, which makes it easier for me due to my volleyball duties.”

Marino Marelić: “I am a graduate student of Kinesiology. As I have always been in love with sports, the only logical choice after graduating from Sports High School was the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb.

Croatian Men's Volleyball National Team

Croatian Men’s Volleyball National Team

How do you manage to balance your obligations at the club, daily training sessions, travels, matches, etc with university obligations?

Rene: “As I said before, this college is suitable for professional athletes and working people who don’t have time to attend classes every day. We can attend webinars each week, the footage from it is always available to us, so we can complete our tasks online. Our exams have a few deadlines, so we can choose the one which we are most comfortable with. Also, we write seminars that contain topics from exams, as those seminars become our main learning tool.

Lea:Well, you can do anything if you set your mind to it! The right organization is important, leaving everything else to align easily. The faculty is aware of our volleyball responsibilities, so we don’t have any problems with absences. The sports part of me never suffered because it is only up to me to train hard and study.

Fran: “Since I play abroad, I try to “pass” easier exams online during the season, studying in breaks between the training sessions or travels. When I have my season break, I “warm up the chair” and study for the rest of the exams.

Božana: “Of course, it isn’t easy to balance all this, but when you are right-minded and can organize your time, everything can be done. Both the professors and the faculty are quite understanding and ready to help as much as they can, so I can fulfill my obligations easily.

Ema: “Honestly, my plan was to take my exams after the season ends, in the summer, as I had a whole season to study from all the materials available online.”

Kruno: “It was hard during my undergraduate program since there were numerous lectures I had to attend. But with the good organization and by giving up “unnecessary things”, I “survived” that period while also training hard every day.”

Katarina: “Since I enrolled full-time program while training twice a day, sometimes it can be tiring and difficult. But I have a huge motivation to do well in both fields, my education and volleyball career, so I manage to fulfill my commitments regularly.”

Nikolina: “Since the whole program is online-based, it is much easier for me to balance my obligations. Each subject lasts 4 weeks, and after you passed it, you can move on to the next one. Sometimes, it can be tricky when my team is on the road, playing away matches, but with goodwill and hard work, everything can be done. Also, the organization plays an important role, but I believe that all the athletes have learned to fulfill their obligations on time.

Marino: “I still find it very challenging to “juggle” academic responsibilities along with my duties as a professional volleyball player. It was always like I am on a “teeter”, as one side went up and the other fell down, but sometimes it went really well with both. The frustrations from college would quickly disappear while I was playing volleyball, and also vice versa.


How do you fulfill your college obligations during this quarantine?

Rene: “Well, because of the whole coronavirus situation we don’t have training sessions or matches, so we have much more time to study and perform our college duties.

Lea: “Definitely, much easier than before because now we can focus more on our studies. I manage to attend all the lectures online, so it is easier for me to learn because I can keep track of the lessons that we learn.

Fran: “Mostly, I am at home so I try to study as much as I can, while also preparing my final thesis.

Božana: “During this quarantine, we started having online lectures, so I must admit it works really well for me. Each day, professors are putting the materials and our assignments online, so that we can prepare until the exam deadlines.

Ema: “Due to the current situation, the college has online lectures and consultations, which became really helpful for me. As I have no volleyball duties now, I try to fulfill as many college obligations as possible, until we go back to training.

Kruno: “Online lectures and self-study texts are working really great at my college. The amount of free time I have now helps me to organize my college duties easily.

Katarina: “Currently, we are having lectures via “Merlin” software, which is fine because we have to maintain our work-plan. It can be “tricky” because we cannot do practical subjects, as they are on hold now, so I am waiting for the instructions from my professors.”

Nikolina: “As all the competitions have been canceled or postponed, I have much more free time to perform my college duties, rather than performing them during my competitive season.

Marino: “During this pandemic situation, everything is mixed up for me, I work from home, trying to get rid of old habits.

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