Hailing from Serbia, Katarina Vuckovic has been a force for the Jackets in her three years here. The eastern European product has assimilated well at Tech, particularly showing promise in recent weeks. Vuckovic recently sat down with the Technique to share some of her thoughts on her experiences in and out of basketball.
Technique: I heard you started playing basketball at age 11. What inspired you ?
Vuckovic: Yes. Actually I wasn’t really inspired, I was playing volleyball at that time, and then some coaches came to my class, and they said they were opening a basketball school. Then my whole class went — everybody except me. So I decided that, well, I have to go, you know, everybody is going. So that’s why I started, and then in the end, ironically, I was the only one left playing.
Technique: Is it difficult for you to be far away from home? Do you get the chance to see your parents often?
Vuckovic: It was in the beginning, I’m not going to lie. The first month when I got here was super miserable, just adjusting to everything, the language and not seeing my parents. But I left home when I was fifteen, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I get to see my family once a year, but we talk over the phone almost every day. It gets hard towards the end of spring semester when it is coming close to that whole year that I haven’t seen them. That’s when I get sort of homesick.
Technique: How do you balance school and being an athlete?
Vuckovic: Everything is about time management. We have a great support staff around us; they make our schedule. It’s pretty much balanced out, but it’s still hard, especially when we are in season and having so many road trips and missing classes and keeping up with that. We have a great academic staff around us to make sure we are on top of our school work.
Technique: Do you have a favorite restaurant in Atlanta?
Vuckovic: Well I like food, so I’m not really picky, but when I first got here I had trouble adjusting to the food. I like Antico Pizza. It reminds me of European pizza and just like the arrangement in there reminds me of in Europe.
Technique: Would you be inclined to say that pizza is your favorite American dish?
Vuckovic: No, I mean American pizza is not the same. I think Antico is more like European pizza; that’s why I like it. My favorite American food? I’d have to say burgers. You guys have way better burgers than Europe.
Technique: What do you miss most about home?
Vuckovic: My family, my sisters. I feel like they are way closer, the two of them, than I am with them because I have been away for so long. I think it’s been seven years now. I mean, I miss them. I feel like missing big birthdays and everything is hard and friends.
Technique: What are your goals for the rest of the season? How are you preparing for the ACC tournament?
Vuckovic: We had a rough start, so we are looking to finish out strong through these last five games, just trying to learn from our losses. Like every year, we are taking it one game at a time and just trying to do our best.
Technique: Out of the five games that are left, do you have one that you are looking most forward to?
Vuckovic: I would say the next one, Miami, I don’t know. Miami and Duke I would say. Those are going to be
Technique: Where do you see yourself after Tech?
Vuckovic: I would definitely like to play professionally back in Europe. I’m looking forward to spending some time at home and catch up a little bit. Definitely play professionally after.
Technique: Do you have a dream job outside of basketball?
Vuckovic: Outside of basketball? Not really, but I would definitely like to stay in sports and the sports industry.
Technique: How many languages have you learned to speak over the years?
Vuckovic: I say five, but three of them are basically the same. I know a bit of German. I was going to do a German minor, but then I felt like if I knew German a little bit than I wouldn’t need a minor. So I would say five.
Technique: Do you have a person that has been a biggest inspiration for your athletic career?
Vuckovic: Yes, but it’s not really related to basketball. It’s Novak Djokovic. He’s the best tennis player in the world. Just to see what he went through in life. There’s a history of our country, the wars and how he persevered through everything and how he never gave up on his dreams. Everything he accomplished so far and how involved he is in the community, and not just sports. He’s running his own foundation, helping young kids, encouraging them to …
Technique: What’s your favorite thing about Tech?
Vuckovic: I like the challenges that Tech provides us with, definitely. I like the environment here at the Athletic Association. Everybody is looking toward your best interests. They want you to succeed and become the best person you can be.
Technique: What has been the highlight of your career?
Vuckovic: I think my best moment was last year, senior night, when we beat Duke for the first time since like ‘94. Our only senior wasn’t able to play due to injury, so to get a win for her was really special for us.