ORU volleyball’s Katarina Mikulic has found herself a major contributor. The junior out of Zagreb, Croatia, has recently come off her first career double-double, notching 18 digs and 16 kills helping secure the win against Abilene Christian. But her presence is more than just a stat line. Her energy can be felt surging throughout the court.
This year, Mikulic is one of the oldest on the team, making her beneficial to a young squad.
“I try to encourage them while we are playing,” said Mikulic. “Sometimes I give speeches before the game [and if they are losing] speeches to try and get them back into the game.”
Motivation is welcomed on any team, especially when they are searching for leaders to rise.
“We lost a lot of good players from last year, but I think that our hard work will show up, and we will be good,” she said.
Mikulic’s leadership not only influences the girls on the court, but it transcends into their everyday lives.
“I try to help them in and out of court because right now, for the next three months, we are together all the time and now this is my family,” she said.
Her drive is part of her influence on the team.
“If you want to be good, you need to be persistent and never quit.” Mikulic adds. “I sacrifice a lot of stuff because of volleyball, but that is normal in sports. With work, everything is possible. I am still getting up early to do stuff. It’s hard, but this is what I want and what I love.”
Her eagerness and ambition stems from the desire to follow in the footsteps of her older sibling.
“I started to play volleyball when I was nine” she said. “My older sister was playing before me, and when I went to watch her, I started to like it and that is why I am here now.”
Her journey to ORU took a few steps of faith.
“I didn’t have an opportunity to come to visit ORU because the trip from Croatia to here is really expensive,” she said.
Despite never visiting, her connections helped find her way to Tulsa. It also helps that her coach is Croatia, and not mention the scholarship. “That was one reason why I chose ORU,” she said.
She has had to overcome obstacles before, and stepping into a new role on the team won’t be much of a challenge. Her father taught her the importance of working hard.
“I want to be like my dad because I admire him for everything, for what he did in his life,” she said. “He was in the war for his country and from nothing, we now have everything that we need. He never quit in his life, and I want to be just like that.”
Mikulic has embraced her father’s perseverance. She has adapted to the new schemes and played well considering that volleyball in the U.S. is different from volleyball in Europe.
For Mikulic, volleyball is a major accomplishment, but family is everything.
“My family is my biggest support, and it was hard to come here to another continent,” she said. “Sometimes it’s still hard after two years but like I said this is the best thing that I could do in my life. And I know that my family is so proud of me because of this. They know it’s hard to be away from home, alone without them but they are really proud and happy.”
Not only is she valued by her family, but her teammates as well. So, the next time number 14 digs a ball or gets a kill, remember her value eclipses more than what is seen on the court, because Mikulic is ORU volleyball.