Feb. 11, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The college experience is as much about growing as a student as it is as growing as an individual and young adult. Student-athletes face the same growing pains as the typical student and obtain perspective and inspiration in similar ways.
Angelika Uremovich, a midfielder for the U of L women's soccer team, struggled with finding the area of study she was most passionate about and fulfilled her desires as an individual when she arrived in Louisville. However, Uremovich has since found inspiration through an unlikely source and through a spontaneous decision made in the summer of 2011.
Uremovich made the decision to coach at a camp on a small reserve in Kugluktuk, Nunavut in July 2011. Kugluktuk, a small village in northern Canada on the coast of the Beaufort Sea, faces many challenges related to suicide, alcohol, substance abuse and domestic violence.
"This remote town faced a major crisis and I experienced some of the emotional damage with which the children were left," Uremovich recalled. "They were resistant to my presence on the first day, but warmed up to me quickly as they saw that I genuinely cared about their well-being and wanted to have fun with them."
Dr. Alexi Lyras, a Sport for Development professor at U of L, guided and encouraged Uremovich to continue using sport as a means of helping those in need. "I credit a lot to my professor Dr. Lyras," she explained. "He laid out the basic foundation of his class and guided us enough so that we could transform from pedagogical learning to andragogical learning."
Uremovich's next trip took her to Hope Orphanage in Molepolole, Botswana in southern Africa, where she and other U of L students created enrichment programs to children in need. Before her trip, Uremovich reached out to her hometown soccer club, Oakville Soccer Club, in Oakville, Ont., Canada. Oakville Soccer Club generously donated jerseys for Uremovich's group to take to Botswana and give to the children of the orphanage.
"On the final day at my school in Molepolole, we gave out the jerseys. The students were endlessly thankful and excited to have them, proudly sporting them right away," she recalled. "They wore the same t-shirt and shorts every day and ran on the hard ground without shoes and with no complaints. The elation on their faces was indescribable and my team members and I are so incredibly thankful that we were able to give them something that could bring such joy."
Uremovich, a rising redshirt senior, has gained perspective and inspiration in her own life by helping those in need. A two-time member of the Dean's list, she credits these experiences with teaching her new meanings for life.
"I encourage everyone I know to step into their own neighborhood with an open mind and heart," said Uremovich. "You will likely get more than you will ever be able to give, and that is ok. In fact, it is perfect. Be open to learning and experiencing from different cultures and you will find a new meaning for beauty. My journey has just begun and I am so excited for where life will take me."