To excel on both the court and in the classroom is a tremendous task that requires loads of drive and diligence. Vikki Stec can handle both with high levels of success.
Vikki Stec is a junior here at Kean University who plays a vital part in the success of the women's volleyball team. Starting as the outside hitter, Stec is a key element to the fierce Cougar offense. She is responsible for a ton of offensive opportunities that manifest as games progress. To play outside hitter, one has to have adept passing, ball-handling, and offensive skills. Her stats prove exactly that.
Stec finished the season with 345 kills, 277 digs, and 406 points in 37 starts. She posted career highs in over a dozen of stat categories, which highlights her continuous growth as a volleyball player. She is not content with just being good at volleyball. Instead, she strives to compete at the highest level in each match.
This undying thirst to give her best effort in each match was best seen when she was awarded the NJAC Player of the Week last semester. She won the Oct. 23 NJAC Player of the Week for her outstanding performance during the five-game stretch. The Kean Cougars were undefeated during that span, led by Stec's tremendous performances. She was fantastic on the court, averaging 3.12 kills, 2.35 digs and 3.50 points per set, according to the NJAC website. In a victory against Catholic University, Vikki tied her career-high with 20 kills.
Despite her skill in the sport, Stec didn't intend to be a volleyball player. "I started [playing volleyball] in eighth grade," Vikki said. "My friend that got me to play is actually on the Kean team, and we play together. She [Juliana Romero] forced me to play so that we could be friends on the team, and we've been playing together that whole time since then."
Stec was not considering volleyball as a sport, despite having a father who had played volleyball when he was younger. "I've played softball, basketball, and cheered," she mentioned. "[When] my friend made me play, then [my dad] just got really into it. He used to play in Poland."
Stec definitely has Juliana Romero to thank for introducing her to the sport of volleyball. Without Romero, Stec would not have become aware of her skill in the sport and would not have been able to develop them over the years. What started as being forced to play volleyball evolved into achieving a high level of play and an NJAC Player of the Week award.
"I honestly really had no idea that I got it," Stec said, regarding the NJAC Player of the Week award. "Whenever someone gets an award, our coach always puts it in the group chat, but I don't think any of us look on the website to see if we got it."
Apart from being a dynamic athlete, Stec handles her studies with ease. Considering she is a physical education major, even her major is related to athleticism. Yet she never lets her involvement on the volleyball team interfere with her studies.
"I cannot picture myself being anything other than a student-athlete," Stec said. "My whole life I have been going to school and going straight to practice after. Juggling school and sports is like second nature to me. In high school, my parents' rules have always been, 'You can only play sports if you get good grades,' and to this day they still apply."
"I have always worked hard in my academics because that is what I was expected to do and the same thing applies to volleyball," Stec continued. "Hard work should always lead to success one way or another, and that is what I strive for everyday."
Always remembering that her years at Kean University are stepping stones toward her future, Stec remains determined and focused on what lies ahead. In fact, she does not expect her academics to stop after her senior year.
"After undergrad, I plan on going to graduate school and obtaining my masters in Public Administration," Stec mentioned, briefly outlining her future. "I strive to be an Athletic Director and/or a college volleyball coach. I have been geared toward sports my entire life, and this career path just seemed to fit the lifestyle I want to be living."
With her career goals in sight, her time at Kean University is crucial and even more cherished. Stec mentioned that Kean has graciously provided her with many contacts in the athletic department that will ultimately open up a myriad of opportunities in the future.
All in all, Stec is a talented athlete who brings her focus and domination onto the court and into classroom. She keeps her eyes on her goals and continues to be a dynamic student-athlete through and through.