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Mirta Velikonja Grbac is a student of the study programme Media Production, module Photography. She is also a recognized as a state-class athlete by the Slovenian Olympic Committee. Ever since her childhood, sports are a big part of her life. Her parents trained basketball and her father is still an active trainer. In primary school, Mirta trained gymnastics for seven (7) years.
After her activities in gymnastics, she was deciding between pursuing athletics or volleyball. Her uncle, a volleyball trainer, persuaded her to pursue volleyball.
Mirta is especially proud of her achievements, which she Volleyball club Gorica, with the team Gen-i Volley:
From the current season onward, Mirta is playing for the Volleyball club NKBM Branik. In the future, she hopes to achieve the 1st place on the national tournament with her team, play in the Slovenian representative team and test her skills abroad.
What is your usual working day schedule?
I get up between 7 or 8 o’clock. It depends on the time of the morning training. Sometimes it takes place from 9 to 11 o’clock, sometimes from 10 to 12 o’clock.
After training I attend lectures, if they are still being held. During the break I eat lunch.
After my daily tasks, I rest a bit in the afternoon. Afterwards I attend training, which is usually held for two and a half hours (between 17:00 to 19:30).
The training in the morning is held at Draš Center, the training in the afternoon is held in Luknja. In the evening I eat dinner and go to sleep as soon as possible.
How about your schedule on weekends?
On Saturday morning we always have a training planned, regardless, if a match is being held in the afternoon.
If there is a match, the morning training are a are not so intense.
I always eat lunch after training and before a match. Afterwards, I rest and prepare for everything, before heading off to the match.
If the afternoon is free, I rest and try to complete as much tasks and work as possible afterwards.
Sundays are dedicated to free time. I usually get as much sleep as possible. If the weather is I, I go for a short walk.
Regardless of the fact that Sundays are meant for free time activities, I try to dedicate some time for studies as well.
Why did you decide to study at the College and this specific study programme?
Photography has always been one of my interests. I decided to study at Academia, because they offer an adjusted study programme for student athletes, so I have better possibilities to coordinate my school and sport obligations.
Mirta emphasizes that the coordination of school and sport obligation is not easy. She is constantly aware that she is therefore a step behind everybody. During the current period, the most important tournaments in the season are being held. Therefore, she has to adjust her studies and focus on her sport activities. The status of a Student Athlete enables her more flexibility with deadlines for project work assignments and other study obligations.
Mirta thinks that student athletes have a specific advantage, when it comes to studies. They are able to “empty their head” quicker and focus on learning. If a person trains regularly, they have the ability to focus on a single activity and nothings else.
The impact of COVID-19 became a hurdle for her sport activities. Because of the epidemic, Mirta’s tournament calendar for the Slovenian national tournament and cup changed completely. The Central European League was cancelled and they did not attend the European Cup, because of the risks of exposure. A lot of tournaments were cancelled, because of the situation.
This also means that they lost the potential experience, they could have obtained at these events. The national tournament was also regularly interrupted, which increased the difficulty of remaining in shape. She states that COVID-19 impacted her more on a psychological level than on the physical level. Because of the epidemic, one has to come to terms and adjust to the current situation in sports.
After her studies, she wants to continue to pursue her career in sports. Photography will always accompany her on her path. She hopes to pursue photography on a professional level as well. Her advice to other students is that it is important to ones for their physical well-being during studies.
Sports help to keep the mind and body healthy. She warns us about the fact that we do not think about how we sit for longer periods of time. She recommends stretching exercises during breaks or a short walks, to relieve the stress on our back and on our eyes, after looking at a screen for a long time.
The Executive board of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia – Association of Sports Federations granted Academia, College of Short-Cycle Higher Education the Certificate for the developed approach towards dual career encouragement and for providing athlete-friendly education, after an Expert group evaluation for the Certificate of athletic-friendly education.
After the proposal of the Certified athletic-friendly education expert group and the Specialist council for elite sport, the decision was passed on the 16th regular session of the Executive board of the Olympic Committee on the 4th of February 2021.
With this Certificate, Academia ensures the fulfillment of terms for a developed approach toward encouraging dual career realization and for providing athlete-friendly education.