Sandra Brunke, Masters of Business Administration

Agency Head, VolleyUSA

I discovered my passion for volleyball back in my younger days: for 10 years I played in a club in my hometown Potsdam and by showing much ambition and discipline, I finally succeeded in playing in the highest amateur league in Germany, called the “2. Bundesliga”.

Having completed my final examinations at High School, I asked myself what should come next. Quitting playing volleyball was out of question, however playing in a higher league while also pursuing a college degree can be quite challenging in Germany. Both need to be pursued individually, as combining college and sport is basically non-existent in Germany and in many other European countries.

Coincidently, I discovered the possibility of combining volleyball with a solid academic education in the USA and, even better, that it is was possible to obtain financial support by means of a sports scholarship. This sounded like the perfect solution!

However, unfortunately, I soon found out that it was not that simple to obtain THE volleyball scholarship. I had no idea which colleges offered volleyball scholarships, how the league system worked, what the NCAA meant, and I didn’t know what tests to take, how to register and prepare for them and what application documents I needed to fill out. Moreover, I had to apply for a Visa and overcome additional bureaucratic and organizational hurdles. Without help, good advice, and the right contact person, all that could require an awful lot of time and energy.

After many frustrating experiences but with much patience, commitment, and especially with my friends’ support, I eventually made it in 2001 – I was granted a volleyball scholarship. I was ready to begin my first academic year at a Junior College in Arizona.

Because it was my dream to study Travel Industry Management, I left Arizona after the first year and accepted an offer from Hawaii Pacific University (HPU). I continued playing volleyball there for another three years while I pursued my Bachelor’s degree.

I was always involved in extracurricular activities, such as: member of the SAAC organization (student Athletic Advisory Committee), where I supported athletes in all aspects and organized sports events. In my second year I was elected president of the SAAC and received the “Member of the Year Award” at the end of the term.

At the end of my third year at HPU I received my Bachelor’s degree in business administration (specializing in travel industry management) with honorable mention (“Cum Laude") and I thus started my master’s studies in the fourth year.

In order to be able to finance my Master’s, I accepted a Graduate Assistant position at the HPU volleyball team and therefore received a scholarship for another year. I completed my studies in the US in 2006, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) “with Honors” in Honolulu, Hawaii.

After my last volleyball season at HPU, I was selected as a member of the “American International Volleyball Team”. Along with nine different players from different colleges in the USA, I received an invitation to participate in an international tournament on the Caribbean island of Aruba. We won the tournament, beating teams from Venezuela, Aruba and Curacao.

Having successfully achieved my Master degree I had several options to shape my future. Not only was I offered tempting jobs in the tourism industry, I also received enquiries from various European professional volleyball-teams.

Due to my passion for volleyball, my interest in discovering another country and its culture, and learning another language, I decided to play volleyball professionally in France and consequently accepted an offer from the French club, “Volley Nantes Atlantique”. It was a very valuable year and a fantastic experience. Unfortunately an injury stopped me from continuing my professional career, however, when one door closes, another usually opens up. I accepted a job offer from the professional Volleyball Club VBC, Volero Zurich, and assisted the Head Coach, Svetlana Ilic, while also taking care of the marketing and logistics of the European Cup.

Due to the increasing demand of European players seeking volleyball scholarships in the USA, I decided to focus on my Agency, VolleyUSA, and pass on my knowledge to young, talented players. It's been a very rewarding experience.