Feb. 10, 2014
For most student-athletes, an end to one's senior season signals an end to their playing career in that sport and a transition to life after athletics. However, NIU senior Sarah Angelos is looking to become one of the few who do go pro not in the United States, but in Europe.
During the university's winter break, the Waukegan, Ill., native traveled across the Atlantic with hopes of garnering interest for a professional volleyball contract. While no professional volleyball league has lasted in the United States, pro volleyball garners plenty of media attention in many European, Asian and South American nations.
"Professional volleyball is huge in Europe," Angelos said. "If you're in a big city, they'll probably have two or three professional teams just in that city. It's a really big circuit. There's a lot of levels with it."
After leaving shortly after New Year's Day, Angelos spent time in Milan, Venice, the Italian Alps, Vienna and Prague. In each city, the former Huskie and about 30 other former college standouts played against clubs from across southern and central Europe.
"We had a couple practices in Milan," Angelos said. "We actually stayed at the place (Italy's) junior national team trains at year-round. We got to play them the first night and they kicked our butts. They're so good. We kind of just picked up games like that with different clubs in different cities. We'd split up into two teams and play two different teams in that city."
Angelos wasn't one of the group looking to "Stay and Play" - where players, if they impressed scouts and coaches enough, could immediately sign a professional contract and head to that team's country - due to her desire to finish school. However, that didn't mean she wasn't intent on grabbing the attention of some of the clubs while over there.
"It was putting my name out there and getting my name in the conversation," Angelos said. "We were playing for the agents and the placement people, so when coaches start recruiting in May, then they can ask the agents who they have and they'll send game film of us and hopefully get picked up that way. The agents have been doing this for awhile. Coaches know them and respect their opinion, so that's how people get placed."
As the trip wore on, Angelos did catch the eye of a few scouts and agents.
"Towards the end of the tour, they were talking to me a lot about `We could definitely find you a job here if that is what you want to do,'" she said.
First, though, Angelos is looking to finish her degree at NIU. A three-time Academic All Mid-American Conference honoree, she currently maintains a 3.349 GPA in business administration and will graduate with her bachelor's degree in May. Once she's finished up with school, she'll look to move into the professional world, whether it be in business or volleyball.
"Once I get my degree, if it doesn't work out in Europe - which it hopefully does - then I'll be finding a job. I'll be looking all semester for jobs. I'm ready to get into a professional world, whether it's through volleyball or a professional career."
Between now and May, Angelos will stay in contact with the clubs and agents over in Europe via email, along with sending game film for scouting purposes. Additionally, she will have to apply for a traveler's visa.
Logistics aside, though, she is optimistic for landing a professional contract.
"If it's what I want to do and I decide `Let's totally go for it,' then it's a 100 percent I'll get it."