On this week's Inspiring Athletes series, we are excited to introduce you to Sophie Bukovec, professional beach volleyball athlete for Team Canada. Sophie has had a tremendous career thus far playing indoor for a stint collegiately and then moving onto the beach. She has such an inspiring and unique story that is very different than others. Through getting recruited to college in the States from Canada and going through the transfer process, I really admire her perspective and outlook on what the recruiting process was like for her. It goes to show how everyone's recruiting journey is so vastly different and how one can persevere and end up with their own powerful success stories. I am thrilled to share Sophie's words and her beautiful success story.
Please welcome Sophie Bukovec!
Tell us a little bit about your college recruiting process.
I was recruited to play NCAA indoor right out of high school, but chose to stay and compete in Canada where I played indoor for McMaster University. I wanted to play both beach and indoor, so I looked at programs in California that offered both. I sent my highlight videos with an email resume to many coaches. I finally had received a full scholarship to play both beach and indoor at Long Beach State. After an unfortunate fall out with the coaching staff, I decided to transfer to USC that spring to pursue beach. I had known Anna Collier from the youth World Championships and many of her athletes from international events.
What was the most challenging part about the recruiting process?
The most challenging part was knowing the timeline of the recruiting process as well as having the right contacts to reach out to schools that I was interested in.
What was it like getting recruited as a Canadian? Was the process different?
I'm not entirely sure what the process looked like for Americans, but in Canada there seems to be a few major US tournaments that clubs attend with hopes of their athletes being recognized and recruited. It is difficult to stand out as a Canadian because the pool of athletes in the US is so large and established. Reaching out to schools was definitely an important method for me while being recruited.
How was it making the transition from indoor to beach?
Beach volleyball is a very independent, solo sport. You have to learn to fail on your own, grow on your own, and succeed on your own. In indoor, you have a support system within your teammates. In beach volleyball, you have to create your own support system. But, there is beauty in that as well. The ability and freedom to surround yourself with people you trust. People who allow you to be vulnerable. People who are in your corner on good days and bad.
How was it moving from Canada to the States?
It was scary, leaving what is familiar for something that is very unknown. But I was so fortunate to create a family at USC. My teammates became my family, and I still consider them to be even now that I've graduated. It's so important as an international student to feel that sense of belonging because it can definitely get lonely.
Best advice for someone going through the recruiting process?
Be patient. Be yourself and know that you are never stuck. If you are in an environment where you are not becoming your best self, you can always leave. This is not an act of being disloyal, but it is understanding your worth as a person and an athlete.
I have a twin sister who also played in the NCAA for soccer and is now the goalie for Team Croatia.
Favorite books and/or podcasts?
Favorite book right now: Sapiens, Homo Deus, 21 Lessons for the 21st century by Yuval Noah Harari.