posted 2012-09-21 18:58:04

Understanding the Student Athlete

Featuring Karolina Krauze, co-captain of the w women’s volleyball team 

Stephie-Anne Duliepre

Karolina Krauze, co-captain of Hunter’s women’s volleyball team, successfully balances her roles as student and athlete.

As a child, Krauze was very active. “My dad was really big with working out and playing sports and I followed in his footsteps,” she said. Though she was involved in a variety of sports, such as swimming, tennis and track & field, it took her a while to find her favorite sport. Finally, at the age of thirteen, she discovered volleyball. “I remember being in gym class and everyone wanting to be on my team because I was really good at it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any teams in junior high school and my parents weren’t in favor of signing me up for any volleyball clubs,” she recalled.

Karolina, however, was not so easily deterred. During her sophomore year of high school, she tried out for, and made, the volleyball team. It was the beginning of a wonderful journey.

In high school, Krauze began getting attention from college coaches. During her senior season, by luck or fate, her PSAL championship was held right here at Hunter College. Before the game, Hunter’s volleyball coach Ray Bello told Krauze, along with current teammate and fellow co-captain Mia Alexis DeClaro, that he would be watching their performance. Once the game was over, Bello called both girls into his office and asked them to take a look at Hunter and its volleyball program. “I immediately knew I was going to stick to Hunter,” Krauze said.
Being an athlete in college is much different than being an athlete in high school. As a collegiate athlete, you have to work much harder to balance your school life with your sports life. Krauze is not the least bit intimidated by the challenge though. “I am definitely not a procrastinator and that is always essential. You just have to work ten times harder being a student-athlete, but if you love the sport then you should have no problem,” she said. Not long after her meeting with Coach Bello, she made her official decision. She was going to play volleyball for the Hunter Hawks.

In addition to her love for volleyball, Krauze has other dreams as well. She has a passion for kids and has always known she wanted to work with them. “All my life I’ve wanted to be an elementary school teacher,” she said. Krauze is currently in the QUEST program, Hunter’s elementary education program, and is pursuing a minor in mathematics.

She also looks forward to keeping volleyball in her future: she wants to coach in high school, then eventually college. As soon as she’s graduated from Hunter, Karolina plans on obtaining her master’s degree so she can begin teaching and coaching as soon as possible.
With this being her fourth and final year at Hunter, it is a bittersweet season for Krauze. She now shares the role of captain with two other seniors, Kim Hirten and Mia Alexis DeClaro. Last year, appearing in a total of 73 sets, Krauze had 62 kills, 11 service aces and 106 digs. Krauze said the highlights of the 2011 season were beating Baruch in three sets and beating NYU at Hunter for the first time since 1996.

Krauze plans on getting the most that she can out of her senior season. “For the reason that it is my senior year, I play every game like it’s my last. I won’t ever get these years back and that’s always in the back of my mind. I hustle for everything as if there is no tomorrow.”

With only ten girls on the roster, the team is smaller than it was a year ago, but as Krauze says, “It’s quality, not quantity, that matters.” Already, the girls have gone to the Oneonta State Invitational and are scheduled to play at Teaneck, NJ at 4 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. on September 6th. On September 12th, the Hawks will have another shot at beating Baruch; the match is set for 6 p.m. at the Hunter Sportsplex.