October 31, 2023

German Soccer Sensation Finds a Home with the Bobcats

By B&SC Athletics Team

German Soccer Sensation Finds a Home with the Bobcats

In the world of soccer, talent knows no boundaries. The game has the power to transcend borders and bring together people from all corners of the globe. Meet Nina Kotroba, a sophomore at our Syracuse campus and a rising soccer star for the Bobcats on and off the field from Augsburg, Germany.

The Journey Begins

Nina Kotroba’s love affair with soccer began at the young age of six. Her dedication to the sport quickly became evident as she progressed through the ranks of local youth clubs. By the time she reached her teenage years, it was clear that Nina’s talent could not be ignored.

Recruitment to Syracuse Bobcats

After high school, Nina was working at a bank and playing club soccer. She caught the attention of Alex Grigorita, Bryant & Stratton College Assistant Athletic Director and Head Women’s Soccer Coach in Syracuse. “Nina immediately captured our attention through her palpable unwavering enthusiasm during our initial interaction,” he said. “I was Impressed by her technical prowess, speed, and game intelligence.”

Coach Grigorita noted that Nina had recently recuperated from an injury, prompting the coaching team to anticipate there would be a period of convalescence before she could fully restore her self-assurance and on-field velocity. “Nevertheless, her extraordinary leadership acumen, fervent drive for triumph, and exceptional personal attributes left us unequivocally cemented to our decision to integrate her into our Bobcats family here in Syracuse,” he said.

Moving to New York, leaving her family and friends and adapting to a different culture and college life wasn’t easy, but she felt very comfortable about her choice after several conversations with Coach Alex.

“I had offers from other schools,” Nina said. “But, for me, I felt the most comfortable with Alex as a coach. He told me what to expect here and what his expectations for me on the team and in school were. It sounded for me the best fit.”

Living in the dorms on the Syracuse campus, she quickly made friends and started to fall into a rhythm balancing school and soccer. She also became a standout player on the women’s soccer team.

The Rise to Captain

Nina’s first year was marked by an outstanding freshman season, where she consistently delivered exceptional performances on the field. Her dedication and work ethic set her apart, and it wasn’t long before she earned the respect of her teammates and coaches alike.

This year, as only a Sophomore, Nina was named team captain. Her leadership qualities shine both on and off the field. Her ability to inspire and motivate her teammates, coupled with her extensive knowledge of the game, made her a natural choice for being named captain.

Missing Home

Nina comes from a special family. Both of her parents are deaf. She and her older brother are not. Staying connected to her parents is challenging at times.

“Facetime is hard because they cannot hear my voice,” she explains. “We send a lot of pictures and mostly text.” Both she and her parents have to prepare for their calls. “I have to be in a quiet place because we are signing back and forth.”

Although there is no deaf community on the Syracuse campus, her housing director speaks sign language. “It’s very different from German to English,” she said. “So, some words, some signs are of course similar, but a whole conversation is very different from the sign language.”

Nina recalled her experience last Thanksgiving where a group of students went to a local church to help hand out Thanksgiving meals. “There was a deaf couple there,” she explains. “It made me really happy that I could help because none of the people there could speak sign language or anything.”

Road Trip

At the end of school last year, her brother came to visit, and they went on a two-and-a-half- week road trip. “What a trip!” she said. “We went all over – Niagara Falls, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Philadelphia, Cleveland.”

Her brother loved it so much he said he’s coming back when Nina has time to do more exploring. She’ll go home for Christmas break and hopes to plan their next trip at the end of this school year.

Balancing Sports and Academics

Being a student-athlete is a demanding task. While excelling on the soccer field, she also prioritizes her academics. She credits her time management skills to her coaches and professors for her ability to excel both academically and athletically.

“Within our coaching staff, we exert unremitting effort in our pursuit of the prospective student-athletes who can seamlessly assimilate into our academic institution and athletic program,” coach Alex said. “We are excited to count individuals like Nina among our student-athletes, as she not only shows genuine satisfaction from her presence here, but also demonstrates unrelenting commitment both on and off the playing field in her relentless pursuit of attaining her degree at Bryant & Stratton College,” he said.

Resident Hall Assistant

Nina’s contributions to Bryant & Stratton extended beyond the soccer field and the classroom. She is also a resident hall assistant this year. As an RA, she is responsible for fostering a sense of community and ensuring the well-being of her fellow students. Her friendly demeanor and approachable personality make her a respected figure within her residence hall. Her peers admire her not only for her athletic achievements but also for her willingness to lend a helping hand and create a supportive living environment.

“I like being an RA. I have made a lot of good friends. And I have a pretty good connection with the students, other athletes and the faculty. Everything last year was different because I had a lot of classes, lots of tests and it was at the beginning hard to find a balance between being an athlete and being a student,” she said.

RA’s get a single room so a practice she has put into place is to shut off her phone during homework hour. This limits interruptions so she can focus. “It helps that no one comes into my room when they know I am studying,” she said.

Earning her Associate and Bachelor Degree at Bryant & Stratton College

Nina will earn her Associate Degree in Business this year. She intends on staying on to earn her Bachelor Degree. And after graduation? Nina thinks she will stay for a while before heading home to Germany.

“I really like it here, but my family’s back home, so I think it will always pull me back to Germany because I have my friends and family there. But I could imagine myself maybe to be here for a couple of years and then go back to Germany, but to come here for vacation anytime, I love it here!”

Nina’s dedication serves as a shining example to all student-athletes, proving that with the right mindset, discipline and never give up attitude, one can thrive in both arenas.