As student-athletes, our lives are constantly filled with commitments. Games, practices and gym sessions only account for a small portion of the things we need to get done in a week. When you add schoolwork to your plate, it can become overwhelming.
Our Director of Communications and soccer manager, Lubos Kubik (Czech Republic) knew from an early age that he would want to pursue academics at a very high level and continue his passion for soccer. In his hometown, he really felt pressure from teachers and coaches to make a decision and focus on one or the other. We see this time and time again where European students are pressured into making that decision, but we are here to say you do not have to compromise. Read on for details about how Lubos traveled to the US to find a more supportive culture for student-athletes and found success in his studies, his career and his sport!
What sport did you play in college?
When and how did you get started playing?
My father was a professional soccer player and that was naturally pulling towards playing as well. I started playing for my local club at FK Pardubice where I was growing up and I played for all of the youth age groups. My father always wanted me to play and try other sports, which I did to find the sport that I love doing rather than just following his footsteps so I tried hockey, tennis, golf but soccer was still the sport that I wanted to play the most.
Do you still play?
Right now, I play with an amateur team in Prague called Prague Raptors. I ended my "professional" career after college in 2016 and from there played with anyone I could until I moved to Prague. Prague Raptors is a very unique club as it has mainly all international players from all around the world so I feel very comfortable with this club.
Why did you choose to leave to go to the US?
I wanted to find the right combination of a high level of soccer and a high level of academics. In the Czech Republic, you can feel that even in high school the teachers are not very happy with the student-athletes pursuing their athletic career as they want them to focus just on school, while the student-athletes wanted to do both. Logistically it was very difficult to combine both and you always had to choose to focus more on one or the other.
When did you leave?
I left the Czech Republic in the winter of 2011 to go to the state of Iowa in the United States of America and finish high school in Des Moines, the capital of Iowa.
What was the biggest challenge in the transition process?
Definitely there were many challenges when moving to a different country, but the most difficult challenge was the adaptation of being without my family and friends that I grew up with. Yes, there were difficult times to adapt to the different cultures, which would be food, manners, traditions, and many others, but moving to a different country on your own without your family and people you know was very hard.
At the time to go across the world and away from my family and closest friends to school in the United States was very difficult and I was always thinking if it was the right path for me and now that some time has passed I can easily tell it was the best decision I ever made I have met some incredible people during my journey and many of them are my friends for life. I learned the most spoken language in the world that I use every day, I got to know new cultures from a personal perspective and most importantly I enjoyed every minute of it. I wouldn't change anything. Since the beginning of my journey in the US I encountered a lot of ups and downs, but each made me a better and more educated person. I can't imagine what would happen if my family and I hadn’t made that decision.
What were your expectations and what was the reality?
My expectations were that even if everything goes wrong at least I will learn perfect English and learn about new cultures, which both will be beneficial to my future.
What were the biggest lessons you have learned in college or as a result of going through your college experience?
I have learned that college has all of the resources you can think of to help you advance in your career or help you learn anything you want. But you have to go and take it for yourself as everyone is there to help you and support you, but nobody will just give it to you without you wanting it.
What has been the hardest thing about your years in school?
Not being able to fully utilize everything that college has to offer. As a student-athlete, you are there mainly for your sport and school and it is possible you might miss out on many things that US college has to offer such as being part of some great clubs or events due to your student-athlete schedule.
What has been the best thing about your years in school?
The people, by far the people were the best things about my years spent at US college. You get to know so many new people from other parts of the country or of the world. With many of the people, you have lifelong relationships and they are the best part of your college experience.
In what way did your life change (attitude to things, opinions, etc.)?
I realized the world has a simple structure and that if you work hard, do the right thing and surround yourself with the right people that no matter what you do in life you will be successful and happy. Because before college you are worried about what you will do in the future with your degree and question if what decision you made was the right decision and in college, I realized that with hard work, doing the right thing and the right people you can do anything in this world and be happy.
What direction did you go after graduating?
After college, I had a hard decision to make as I had two options. One was to continue with my professional soccer career as I would continue to go to some tryouts or second, to start working in professional sports. I choose to work in professional sports as I have seen it from one side and I wanted to see how it works from the other side. Now with time I know I made the right decision, but it has been hard to let go of playing soccer.
What do you do currently?
Now I am the Director of Operations & Soccer Manager for USA Sport & Study and I help young and talented student-athletes with their journey to the United States as I wouldn't have been able to do it with someone else's help and it completely changed my life. Also, I am still connected with sport as I am part of a soccer club and I play golf, hockey, and tennis when I get the chance.
Would you like to add anything else that you see as relevant for students or their parents who are thinking about a similar path?
One thing I would like to suggest every student-athletes and their parents is to not focus of finding the "perfect" school, sports program or place, but rather the "right" school, sports program and place for their son or daughter, because it can be 4 years of your life that you will spend at US college and it is important the school, sports program and place will not just help you in your career, but also that you will be happy there.
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