Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk: Monica Dolinsky
The University of Kansas may be located smack dab in the middle of the United States, but it is quite common to find a member of the Jayhawk family most anywhere in the world.
Former University of Kansas soccer player, Monica Dolinsky, can testify to just that. The Indiana native is currently residing in Åland, an island off the coast of Finland, where she is underway with her second season wearing an Åland United uniform. Dolinsky was a standout midfielder for the Jayhawks’ soccer team from 2006-09, and is now playing professionally overseas. In soccer, a midfielder has both the responsibility of protecting their goal defensively as well as providing scoring opportunities offensively. Dolinsky is one of Kansas’ finest midfielders accounting for 30 career assists, putting her second all-time in the record books.
Playing a sport professionally is challenging in itself, but to play professionally in another country is an entirely different thing. Dolinsky has had the opportunity to travel abroad for soccer a few times in her career. Her first trip overseas was with a regional team she was part of in high school. KU also gave her and her Jayhawk teammates the opportunity of a lifetime to travel south to Brazil for a nine-day trip where they played exhibition games as well as getting to tour different Brazilian cities.
“Going abroad is an unbelievable experience and opportunity,” Dolinsky said. “Of course I miss home and my family and friends, but I have learned so much from traveling just by meeting different people, hearing their stories and experiencing new cultures.”
Dolinsky has really enjoyed her time in Åland thus far. She says that it is a very small country but their support of athletic teams is electrifying. The environment created for footballers (or more commonly known as soccer players in the United States) is top notch.
Though she may be thousands of miles away from home, Dolinsky learned some valuable lessons during her time at KU that have helped shape her into the athlete she is now. One of the greatest things she learned was that you get out what you put in, whether that be on the field or in the classroom. The coaching staff, as well as the professors, helped the Kansas alumnae realize that she could accomplish anything as long as she was willing to give it her whole heart.
Academically, the University helped prepare Dolinsky for life in a foreign country in more than one way. Studying communications at KU helped her adapt and interact with people of different languages and customs.
Aside from the lessons learned, Dolinsky treasures the lifelong friendships she made in her years at KU. She also made it a point to say that some of her favorite nights were when the Burge Union (the cafeteria where the athletes often eat on campus) served the best Mac n’ Cheese she’s ever had—hands down.
“Some of the best memories include road tripping to the Orange Bowl and watching the basketball team win a national championship,” Dolinsky reminisced. “Some good times were had, that’s for sure.”
Playing soccer beyond college may have been a dream of Dolinsky’s as a child, but as her collegiate career came to a close the soccer star found herself ready to move on and hang up the cleats. However, it didn’t take long for her family to help her find a renewed love for the sport and encouraged her to pursue her dreams of playing soccer professionally.
Dolinsky hasn’t looked back since. She is enjoying her fourth season abroad and hopes to possibly play for Sweden or Germany next year. Eventually she would love to come home and play for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) here in the states where she can play in front of her family and friends again.
There is no doubt that the sport of soccer is continuing to grow and gain more recognition in the states, both men’s and women’s. The idea of possibly being able to have a career playing the sport you love while representing your country is very appealing for athletes like Dolinsky.
“I would love to help make a difference in women’s soccer in the United States,” said Dolinsky. “Continuing the development and helping girls understand that becoming a professional soccer player is possible would be fantastic, and to be able to make a living while playing in the states would be great.”
Dolinsky is excited that soccer is attracting more fans and support here, but also realizes that until it is more established Europe’s rich “football” culture will continue to draw U.S. soccer players to play overseas.
No matter where her soccer career may take her, Dolinsky will always carry her love for the University of Kansas with her.
One of Dolinsky’s favorite things about being a University of Kansas grad is when she is having a conversation with someone anywhere in the world and KU comes up and they begin reciting the Rock Chalk chant or begin to wave the wheat.
Kansas Athletics is known for its rich traditions. It is not uncommon for Dolinsky to be walking down the street wearing Crimson and Blue and have at least one person yell “ROCK CHALK.” Those unfamiliar with KU you may be a bit confused, but to a true Jayhawk fan, another member of your extended family has just been found. Dolinsky has realized that whether she be in the states or in a country far, far away, a piece of home will always be close.
Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk.