The long and winding road from Serbia

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Photo by Jesse Sanchez

As the Utah Valley University volleyball team prepares for the final stretch of the season, newcomer Marija Martinovic has found her fit with the Wolverines. Born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, Martinovic has traveled quite a way to play for UVU. However, adjusting to life in Utah has been interesting for the junior athlete.

“Even though here people are hiking and everything, we are way more outdoorsy. I would walk to school everyday for half an hour and if I do that here, people think I’m crazy. I come from a big city, so that compared to Orem is very different,” said Martinovic.

Growing up in Serbia, volleyball was always popular among the youth. Although, that popularity was soon raised to another level.

“In 2011, our national team won the European Championship and that was huge, especially because we hosted it. Ever since then, it has been getting better and better over there,” said Martinovic.

Entering her 12th year playing volleyball, Martinovic has embraced the process of playing in the U.S.

“It has been a long road, I started off my freshman year in Tennessee [Lee University] and then transferred to Kansas [Hutchinson Community College] where I had a teammate from Salt Lake City,” said Martinovic. “She gave me a thought about looking at schools around here and so I looked it up online and I liked UVU, so I contacted Coach [Sam] Atoa.”

Growing up, volleyball was what occupied the majority of Martinovic’s life. However, when she was not hitting the ball over the net, Martinovic enjoyed traveling to different countries. Her love of traveling also helped in adjusting to the U.S. Even today, when she is not busy with school or volleyball you can probably find her on the road.

“Spring semester is always really wild for me, because I’m always on a road trip during the breaks, it is one of my big hobbies,” said Martinovic.

Despite the long distance, Martinovic’s family is in Serbia cheering her on. UVU is actually the first team she has ever played on that hasn’t had a fellow Serbian on the roster. When she was in Tennessee and Kansas there were Serbians on both squads, which speaks to the popularity of the sport overseas.

“It is kind of hard without them here, but since I have been in the states for two years now, I’m fine and I’m really liking it,” said Martinovic.