Katja Kohler – Casper, Wyoming

Katja Kohler
Casper, Wyoming

My whole life, I wanted to go to the USA. I missed my chance to go to an American high school after my sophomore year in Germany, so I thought that I would never have the chance to see this amazing country. But thanks to Sandra, I got to live here after all.

One year before I graduated from high school, my volleyball team made it to the German championship in Berlin. I had never heard about the opportunity to play college sport in America, but when Sandra contacted me and asked whether I was interested, I was very excited. And so, I started filling out all the paperwork, making videos and taking tests. Without Sandra, I never would have been able to do all of it, but she answered every question that I had, no matter what it was and helped me through the process.

Soon, I started getting offers and I got in touch with some of the coaches that were interested in me. After Christmas, I got offered a full ride scholarship in Casper, Wyoming, and soon I knew that this was where I wanted to go. After more paperwork, I finally got my visa and I started to pack my bags.

After the long journey, I finally arrived at the small airport in Casper, where my new roommate, Liv, picked me up. The following two weeks were hard. We had at least two practices every day for two weeks, and were so tired that I didn’t even feel the jet lag. But soon I got used to it, and when school started, one two-hour practice a day was no problem at all. The campus is beautiful and big, especially when it was warm and sunny in the first two months.

I got used to everything very fast, the team helped me a lot, since we spent most of the time together we got pretty close soon after we met. After a few pre-season tournaments, we started season. Coach called us a rollercoaster team more than once, because we played amazing the one day, and the next day we didn’t talk on the court and nothing worked the way it should. However, at the end of season, we had won most of our games and every single player had improved a lot. Personally, I felt challenged the whole time. We had extra setter practices and sometimes did a drill for the setters during normal practice as well. Coach Sharman was the first coach to actually analyze what I was doing wrong and how to fix it, and she really helped me improve every day in practice. Instead of just telling me that I was slow, she told me that I could be faster if I did a few things different and all the footwork in practice made me better. Even though it was hard from time to time, I can definitely say that I never learned so much in this amount of time ever before.

Sadly, we didn’t make it to nationals, but we did have a great season despite our rollercoaster. When season began, I was a starter and played almost every game. I had fun, I improved in volleyball, and I experienced the USA as a part of it, and not just as a tourist, like most people do.

Living in this country, and being away from home for nine months (even though I was home during Christmas break) was one of the best decisions in my life. Even when I struggled, it made me stronger and I learned so much, not only about volleyball, but also about myself.

I really recommend doing this to everyone! It is hard to get here, but with Sandra’s help it is not a problem. At this point, I want to thank you again, Sandra, because no matter what I needed, you were always there to help me, the whole time. I met great people and saw great places thanks to you, and I will definitely come back to the U.S. one day and visit Casper.

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