A Dual Athlete That is Doubly Great

zoya-gansThere is a girl that you should know about; a young lady who is making a name for herself in her community and her school. Zoya Ganz, a student at Marquette Catholic School in Michigan City, is an athlete with great grades and a great attitude.

Zoya began her journey to athleticism in the 5th grade when she joined the volleyball team. She is one of three children and was born to a mom who was adamant about her kids leading healthy lifestyles. She had a natural knack for volleyball and really enjoyed herself. From there she kept playing and made it onto a traveling volleyball team in 8th grade. During this time Zoya also ran cross country. It was a busy time for her since cross country and volleyball take place at the same time during the year.

“There were many mornings where I was driving her to the beach and other places so they could run and then a few hours later I took her to volleyball for another three hours,” Kelly Blieden, Zoya's mother said. “She also had a job during the summer, but time management is a great skill that she has, and one that is important. I think sports has helped her learn this important skill.”

“I really love doing those sports and it stinks that they are in the same season,” Zoya said. "But I give 100 percent effort in both sports because I love them both.”

For anyone who is involved in a sport as well as school, you know that it takes up a lot of your time. And you have to be careful not to let your studies fall by the wayside. Zoya was very careful about keeping her grades top priority.

“My school work is really very important to me and if I couldn't manage sports and schoolwork than I wouldn’t be doing both,” Zoya said. “If you dedicate yourself to something put in 100%. Commit yourself to it, otherwise it’s like your just doing a bunch of stuff but it's meaningless.”

“The fact that both volleyball and cross country support each other has lead Zoya to success; on the volleyball court and most recently in cross country,” Blieden said. “Zoya is lucky to have great coaches and great girls around her. Yes, she does work hard, but without the support of her coaches and her team mates it would have been much harder.”

One of those coaches is Nicole Caylor, the Director at the Northwest Athletic Club in Michigan City. She has had the pleasure of being Zoya's coach for cross country. You can hear the pride in her voice when she spoke of Zoya.

“She is a team player, she is an encourager, and she works very hard at every single practice,” Caylor said. “She's not there just physically but mentally as well. [Zoya]'s there for the team's success. It's not about Zoya, it's about the team...I could go on for days about how great she is.”

Zoya reciprocates the proud feelings about Caylor.

“Nicki such a great coach. She really helped me get through everything,” Zoya said. “She is a great role model. I want to run the same times as her and do the same routines as her...she is inspirational and really helped me out.”

Always the extrovert, Zoya has a confidence and positive attitude that are quite contagious. In cross country she will often finish her run and go back to run with her teammates to keep them motivated. She's constantly chearing both her cross country and volleyball teams on, and if the opposing side wins a game or a meet, she's always there to congratulate them.

Zoya has a great group of friends and a wonderful family that supports and encourages her. She is the competitive sort and really pushes herself to be her best all the time. She attributes a lot of her present standings to her mother.

“My mom helps me a lot. I can't drive yet, so she takes me wherever I need to go and she is at every single game always cheering me on,” Zoya said.

Blieden said, “We as parents gain so much pleasure from seeing our children grow, succeeding, and gaining strength. Sports teaches such life skills, and allows parents to be a big part of their kids' lives.”

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