Kasia’s Italian story
The Polish representation team leader has been performing for the third season in the strongest league in the world – Italian A series. She has learned a lot here as a volleyball player, but she has also grown as a woman. Today, she is one of the best attackers of the globe and a person with a large baggage of experience. How has Italy formed Kasia Skowrońska-Dolata?
A several dozen meter flat near the exit route from Novara. A few volleyball players of Asystel live in a three floor building, among them Katarzyna Skowrońska Dolata with her husband Jakub. After almost three years spent in Italy, the Pole feels good here, but she doesn’t hide the fact, that her home is still 1500 km from here. Right now, however, she is learning life in beautiful Italy.
SET 1: Vicenza
June 2005. The president of one of the Italian clubs – Minetti Vicenza, comes to Montreaux, where the Polish representation team is taking part in an International Tournament. He signs a contract with Kasia, after three years of trying, convincing and unfolding of fairytale visions. – Gosia Glinka used to play in this club, they were pleased with her, so they wanted another Pole – says Skowrońska. After three years in Italy, she is no longer the same, world curious, uncertain of the future teenager. She has learned about local customs, she has been accepted by the “locals”.
- A few years ago, I received an invitation from Vicenza, I came for a week, they rented a flat for me. I had a few trainings, I swam, I had dinners at restaurants, I played beach volleyball. They wanted to show me what life here was like. I came, I saw, I liked it, but I stayed in Poland. I was a little afraid to leave everything behind. After winning the gold at the European Championships, I received an offer from Italy, also from strong clubs – Perugia, Jesa, later from Novara. I chose, however ,an intermediate team, to gradually enter A Series. And Magda Śliwa was playing in Vicenza then. It was great at first. The only problem was the language. When I came to Italy, I could only say “ Hi, I am Kasia, nice to meet you”. After signing the contract I travelled to the cadre with books, but I didn’t read them, because the girls said that I will learn the most on the spot. They were right. That is how my Italian adventure began.
SET II: Ups and downs
We move from the living room into the kitchen. Kasia spends a lot of time here. She can cook some really great things. Of course, when she has the time, because it’s usually just pasta (her spaghetti carbonara tastes especially well). – At first it went great in Vicenza, I was the first attacker – continues Kasia - . But we went to Great Champions’ Cup with Magda and the fairytale bubble burst. We were both put on the bench for no reason. From that day I started crossing out days till the end of the season, in my calendar. I couldn’t leave the club because the transfer window was already closed. Everyday, when I was coming back home, I made a line on the staircase wall. Over time, it became quite large. My motivation was to train very well, which I did. In Italy, in weaker clubs, which don’t have great goals, many things are played out outside the field. Despite my disappointment with Vicenza, I saw that the Italian league is not so bad. No aliens, jumping above the net, play here. I made contact with the manager Mauro Raguzzioni and since then he has been representing me. After the first year, I received 9 propositions, most from Italy, but also from Japan and Russia. I chose Novara, a club with ambitions and quite a lot of pressure. My faith changed, we were winning and the atmosphere was very good. We set the Italian league record – 15 winnings in a row.
SET III: Everyday life
Today Kasia knows how to react to certain behaviors of local activists or players. She doesn’t let people walk all over her, she knows how to stand up to them. But it used to be difficult for her to do that. – In order to come to Italy and stand it here, you have to have a strong personality – says Skowrońska. - During my first year I had a lot of downs, I cried, I wanted to quit everything. I saw Italy from the worst side. In Vicenza you always had to be a beautiful, smiling puppet, because that’s what they wanted at the club. Dinners, meetings with sponsors. They fought with me and Magda because we spoke Polish. The President wasn’t pleased that I spoke Polish with my fiancé at home. In our country, team members are not cared for this way. They are paid the least. Everyone cares for foreigners. In Italy it’s the other way round. The Italians are pampered and cared for.
When I ask Kasia about her saddest experience, Kasia thinks a while and then she shivers. – In Vicenza at training, our whole training team was playing a little game – she recalls. – After one of the attacks, the ball fell beyond the line, but they didn’t notice whether it was an out or not. The specialist responsible for physical preparation looked at me and said: “Kasia, tell me that it wasn’t an out and I will pay you. You are Polish, I will pay you and you will do what I want”. I understood then. It was supposed to be a joke, but it hurt me so much that I didn’t speak to him till the end of the season, although I worked with him every other day at the gym. He treated me like he was better. For them, the Polish, the Romanian, Russian were the same – you give them money, you buy them off, and they will do anything. It’s sad. But there are kind people here as well. It depends who you come across.
SET IV: Friends
On the entrance door to Mr and Mrs Dolat’s flat in Novara hangs a huge, yellow cardboard with “Miss Volley Rosa 2007, mister Second, mister Kuba” written on it. Their friends, Max and Davide were holding such a banner, when they were greeting Kasia at the airport in Mediolan in November when she was returning from the World Championships. On a small piece of paper, which is fastened to the medal for the best contestant of the event, Max wrote: “ I already told you this three months ago”. – I have got friends all over the world but I am attracted to Poland, that is where I will have my home – says Skowrońska. – We have met a lot of nice people in Italy. We are the closest with Davide and his wife Robbie and with Max and Cris. We visit each other in our homes or we go out to dinner together. They even surprised us once and they followed us to Verona, and after all it is 300 kilometers one way. I don’t have a close friend at the club. Last year Anja Spasojević was my close friend, but she left for Switzerland. I have a great contact with Paola Cardullo, who I live with in one room at trips. Me and Sara Anzanello like each other very much as well. But of course the closest person is my husband – Kuba. We came to Vicenza as an engaged couple, we got married later. When I was leaving for Italy, we had to decide: either we go together or we don’t go at all. If I were to go alone, the relationship didn’t make sense. There are so many difficult moments, sometimes we need a hug, talk.
SET V: Future
It is getting dark. Novara is not a place, where at 3 a.m. there are a lot of people on the streets. A car, returning from Mediolan drives by the Pole’s house, from time to time.
- I talk to my mum, who says: Kasia start thinking, what you want to do in your life – says our heroine . – But I don’t know, what will be next year. For now, I want to play. But where? I have to think about it, consult it with my husband. I will decide after the season is over. I do my best to last till the end of this year and regret nothing. It is very difficult because everyday is a fight with myself, with my fatigue. I feel good in Italy, but I don’t know if I can last another year in this league. I will be very tired after the games, but nobody here will let me rest. I have a few options: stay in Novara, change to another Italian club. I am also tempted by Japan. There is an offer from Russia, but I don’t think I want to play there. However, I still have something to do here in Italy. We want to fight for the League with Novara and the gold medal in the national championships. Being champions – is a dream. We have to work, muster our energies every day, in order to be the best.
source (in polish): Przegląd Sportowy