Alica Kandler – Richmond, Virginia

Alica Kandler
Richmond, Virginia

I’ve always dreamed of studying abroad but never actually got the chance to be a part of any student exchange program in high school due to Volleyball. Once Sandra contacted me at the 2013 German Championships I simply couldn’t get my mind of the idea of playing and studying overseas.
I quickly decided that this was something that I really wanted to do and found myself filling out evaluation forms even before I had completely told my parents all about it.

I started working with Sandra on finding a university that would fit me well which was quite difficult because many coaches showed interest in me. However, after speaking to many coaches over Skype as well as sending many emails back and forth, I decided to commit to Daytona State College in Florida.
Many people asked me why I decided to start at a Junior College and honestly I just thought this was the best fit for me. I wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to stay two-year school didn’t seem as scary, I guess. I also thought that Coach Stegall showed that she really cared about her players and especially when coming from overseas you really want to feel comfortable and surround yourself with people that will take care of you. So I trusted my gut and committed to DSC.

I landed in Orlando in late July 2014, where Coach Stegall was waiting to pick me up. I was really nervous and my English wasn’t very well but it was enough to make it through an hour long car ride with my new head coach. As soon as I arrived I felt really comfortable around the coaches and my new teammates which helped making me feel welcome from the very start.

We started preseason almost right away. Team practice twice a day, weight lifting / conditioning, and meetings which were supposed to make us get to know each other better and train our mental game.
It was a tough time since preseason was almost a month long but everybody going through the same pain made pushing through much easier.
I truly enjoyed working with my team and getting better each day since there was so much energy in the gym and everybody hustled after every ball, which gave me a whole new perspective on the game and much appreciation for my team and coaches.

I also had no problem with the class schedule during the first two years. Many people, advisors and teachers, worked really hard to fit our schedule around practices and games which made combining the two a lot easier. Tutors were available for all who needed a little extra help, which was also really helpful especially after missing a day of classes due to away games.

I completed two very successful years in Florida and chose to move on to a division I school. With the help of my coaches and Sandra I committed to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

I decided to stay in Florida over the summer before flying up to Richmond and use it for training since I knew that I did not have the opportunity to play much over summer break in Germany. Another teammate of mine also decided to stay, take classes, and train which made the summer much more fun and time literally flew by.
On July 6
th 2016 I flew up to Richmond where my new coaches were waiting at the airport to pick me up. I noticed right away that VCU build a lot on the athleticism of their players because we all had arrived one month early to simply work in the weight room and do a lot of conditioning before preseason officially started in August.
Even throughout the season we lifted every morning and added conditioning regularly, which I did not mind since I strongly believe that this was one of the main factors why I was never injured during my entire four years overseas.

The academic schedule at VCU was quite challenging, mostly because I chose a very chemistry heavy track and was therefore taking a lot of advanced chemistry classes, which challenged me quite a bit. However, advisors from my program as well as our athletic advisor made sure to check our grades regularly and offer additional tutoring as needed.
We missed a lot of classes due to traveling with the team. Therefore, it was not uncommon to have people take exams on the road under the watch of our academic advisor, who traveled along with us to support us academically on the road.

We won the Atlantic – 10 Championship in 2017, which is probably my most favorite memory of all four years, after working incredibly hard for two seasons to build the team that achieved an incredible record of 30 – 3 over the entire 2017 season and also went 14 – 0 in conference play. Starting with a very young team in 2016 and working consistently for two years to finally win a Championship was a hard fought and also very satisfying ending of my College Volleyball career.

Overall, I spent wonderful two years in Florida and just as wonderful two years in Virginia. Both of my coaches asked a lot from me but only because they wanted to push me and make me better which I truly appreciate. We all were asked to give 110% each and every day which helped us be as successful as we were.
Looking back at those four years I wish I could go back to the very beginning and do it all over again because those four years changed my life and shaped me into the person that I am today. I met many wonderful people along the way and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

To everyone who is thinking about going to play and study overseas – If you are willing to work hard you will have a wonderful experience and meet incredible people. It is a unique opportunity and everyone who has the chance of going overseas should definitely do it!