By Zainab Iqbal
Published: September 14th, 2017
Sarina Rozek, a transfer student from St. Francis’ Division I volleyball program, was awarded the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) Women’s Volleyball Preseason Player of the Year Award.
“I was not expecting that at all,” she said. “It’s an honor to get the award, and I wouldn’t have done it without my team.”
Rozek had received a notification on Facebook from the women’s volleyball coach, Mateusz Gotowicki, wishing her congratulations. She wondered what that was about. “Was he joking?” she said. “I then searched it up online and there it was. I [couldn’t] believe [it was] real.”
“Sarina has been a great leader and positive influence on the team. She brings great skill, passion, hard work and grit,” Gotowicki said. “This hard work was noticed by other coaches in the CUNY conference and respected by the team. She is fully deserving of the preseason award and I expect even better things from her this season.”
Rozek, a senior who has watched all ten seasons of Friends “like eight times,” is majoring in Exercise Science and minoring in Psychology. She hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy and possibly go into neuroscience, a subject she wants to research due to her two concussions from playing volleyball.
Rozek’s volleyball journey began in fifth grade. Her mother used to play volleyball in Slovakia, and she wanted her children to try out soccer. And so Rozek did. In fact, she played for ten years while playing volleyball on the side. But when volleyball became more serious, she chose to stop kicking and start serving.
“My mom was an awesome [volleyball] player. That’s where I get the genes from,” she said. “She got a job coaching volleyball at a church and encouraged me and my younger sister to play. That’s where it all began.”
Rozek transferred to Brooklyn College last year. Before that, she had attended St. Francis College, where she was recruited. It turned out the college didn’t have the major she wanted, but Brooklyn College did.
“I love the volleyball team, I love the whole surroundings regarding Brooklyn and its campus,” she said. “It’s been a transition, but for the good.”
Volleyball season began two weeks ago, when the team played its first two games. Rozek practices with her team for two hours almost every day. She believes the team is much different this year, as there are only four returning players.
“We lost a lot of people. The majority played on the court. Now the rest of the roster is all freshman, people that didn’t play last year, or transfers,” she said. “But I feel like some aspects that we weren’t good at last year, we’re good at this year.”
She credits her team for its first two wins of the season.
“We have some grit when it comes to playing,” she said. “Our first game we were down in the first set 23-16, which is a huge deficit. But we managed to win it 27-25, which is awesome. We have awesome teamwork and all mesh well.”
She still believes there’s work needed to be done. For example, a main goal for the team is tuning their rotation on the court 100 percent. Another goal? Winning the CUNYAC championship.
“Winning the championship isn’t a crazy idea,” she said. “It’s manageable. It would be a lot of work because nothing comes easy.”
Rozek wants to work on producing more kills. She wants the team to be successful and wants all the girls working on their skills to be better in the years coming forward.
Once the women’s volleyball team gets approval from a school in Dallas, it will be traveling there to play various teams. And according to Rozek, Texas plays a whole different level of volleyball.
“It’s a volleyball state, like California, Nebraska, and Florida. New York is probably ten to 20 years behind,” she said. “Those teams will be much better than us, but win or lose, it will build our self-esteem, show us what we need to work on, and prepare us for this season and hopefully the playoffs.”