Nov. 1, 2006
Four years ago if you had asked Zrinka Tomic if she ever thought she would be going to school and playing volleyball at Florida State she would have said you were crazy. But that fantasy is now a reality and the senior setter is one of the main reasons for the Seminoles’ success this season.
As she was about to graduate from Mutija Anton Relkadic in Nustar, Croatia, Tomic had plans of going to school at home. However, a former player from Croatia that had played in the United States contacted Tomic and told her of an opportunity to play in America. Because it was so close to the start of the 2003 season, Tomic did not have a chance to take the SAT in time so her school choices came down to Garden City Community College in Kansas or another junior college in Alabama. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that Tomic knew she couldn’t pass up.
“It was a really late decision,” Tomic said. “An opportunity came along and I just wanted to use it so it was a quick decision. Another girl from Croatia went to Garden City so that’s why I went there. It’s really expense for a foreign kid to come to school here, so I think I would have stayed home and gone to school there had it not been for volleyball.”
Tomic’s first year at Garden City was a learning experience in more ways than one. Even though she had been learning English since elementary school, to be engulfed by the language every hour of every day took some adjusting, but also made it easier for her to improve her English.
On the court Tomic spent her freshmen year as a back up, but when given the chance to start as a sophomore, she took full advantage. Averaging 11.04 assists per game as well as 1.83 kills, 1.07 blocks, 1.07 digs and 0.65 assists she earned Honorable Mention NJCAA All-America accolades as well as NJCAA Distinguished Academic All-American honors.
With impressive all-around numbers, Tomic could have had her pick of Division I schools to transfer to after Garden City, but she was looking for a school that offered the total package, she found that at Florida State.
“Before I even graduated from junior college I wanted to go somewhere that offered more than just sports, but the total college experience,” Tomic noted. “I wanted to go somewhere that I could contribute to the team and school and be a part of a family.”
Similar to her first year at Garden City, Tomic had to be patient during her inaugural year at Florida State as she split time at setter with Jessica Skower. A foot injury also hampered her season as she was limited to just 18 matches and an average of 6.16 assists per game.
With a shortage of experienced outside hitters for the 2006 season, Skower had to switch position, leaving Tomic as the starting setter. All she has done as the everyday starter is rank second in Atlantic Coast Conference matches at 12.66 assists per game and third overall at 12.09 apg.
“I came mostly just to experience a different culture, and of course to get my degree and play volleyball,” Tomic noted. “These four years in the United States have been an amazing experience. I think I’ll approach things differently than I did before. I’ve found there are different ways to do things in life than just the way we do it in Croatia.”
In addition to taking shining on the court, Tomic has excelled in the classroom and in the community. Last year she was a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll and this fall was honored with the Femina Perfecta Award for her achievements in academics, athletics and community service.
Following graduation this spring, Tomic plans on returning to Croatia to play for her club team and potentially play elsewhere in Europe. Once her playing career is complete, she intends on going to back to school and getting her master’s degree.