Conversation: Mira Topic
The 6'3" senior outside hitter from Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia has made her mark on the Texas volleyball program in her three plus years on the Forty Acres. Mira Topic has also launched an assault on the Texas career record books making her presence felt as she climbs her way toward the top of the all-time kills list. The hard-hitting Topic ranks fifth nationally in kills per game (5.75) and has paced the 2004 Longhorn squad to a top ten ranking. Recently TexasSports.com sat down with the All-American to discuss defense, family, moving to the U.S., and The Great Wall of Chocolate.
In 2003 you were an All-American, but you have made tremendous improvements in your game this year as you aim towards garnering All-American honors again. What have you done to improve so much?
MT: This year I was able to practice during the spring, and during the preseason this fall I was able to work with the team. In years past I wasn't able to practice as much because of my injuries, but this year was good for me because I could do everything. That extra practice time is the reason that I have improved so much. All of the practice in the spring and in the preseason has really helped me improve my back row game. I worked a lot on my defense and coach explained to me how the defense system works. Before I was guessing where to go and now I know where to go and why to go there. All of that information and practice has really helped.
Leaving Croatia and coming to the United States to play volleyball was a very big step in your volleyball career. How were you discovered by American coaches, and why did you choose the University of Texas?
MT: When I was playing on my junior national team in the world championships in Portugal and scouts from USC can to watch me play including (Head Coach) Jerritt (Elliott) who was coaching there at the time. He scouted me first at USC, but in February of that year Jerritt came to see me play in Croatia as was transitioning from USC to Texas. I knew he was a good coach and I wanted him to be my coach and that is why I switched my choice from USC to Texas. Signing with Texas was great and I have enjoyed my time here very much.
What was the most difficult adjustment you had to make when you moved to the U.S.?
MT: English! English was the worst. People were talking to me and I could not understand what they were saying to me and just was not good. The team really helped me by talking to me very slow and by not talking to me through any slang. I also had to adjust to being away from my family and having to trust people more. I had to find out who I could and could not trust.
… What was the hardest thing to get used to when you came to the University of Texas?
MT: Everything was so big (laughing). Then I found out that everything is big in Texas. Everything was so spread out and far away. The way school is here and how busy my schedule was very hard to get used to as well. I didn't have any expectations when I came here and when I finally came my only thought was, Wow this is so big.
When you came to the United States the English language was still new to you, but you have overcome that challenge and are on pace to graduate in three and a half years. How proud are you of that achievement?
MT: I am very proud and excited about graduating early. I know that I need school for my life, but graduating is great because it give me the chance to play pro volleyball in the spring. During my sophomore year Jerritt came up with the idea for me to finish a semester early so I will not lose the spring season this year for playing volleyball. I am so excited to be graduating early and when I do I will have the opportunity to go home for a little while before I start playing professionally.
What do you plan to do with your degree in corporate communications after you are done here at Texas?
MT: I am not exactly sure what I want to do, but I have really enjoyed my major. I like spending time with people and communicating, and I really like the fact that it is not a field that requires sitting at a computer and typing all day. For a few years I know I have volleyball, but in the future I could possibly start my own company.
You are one of the two seniors on this year's outstanding team. What role have you played in helping to mentor some of the younger players?
MT: As a senior my experience has been important in helping me, help the younger players learn more. My experience has allowed me to almost act as another coach because of my knowledge of the game.
… What have you done to assert your leadership?
MT: I just try to always do my best and hopefully the younger players see me trying to do my best and try to do the same thing. I do not try to do anything special, other than continuing to work hard.
Last summer the team went on a European tour and you were given the opportunity to share some of that culture with your teammates. How important was that experience to you?
MT: That experience was great because the team actually got to play together and spend time together for two weeks. That great experience in Europe and having fun with each other really helped improve our team. When we went to Europe it was great because I already knew the culture and it was kind of like being at home. Being able to share the experience with my team was a lot of fun because they are like my family. It was very exciting to help my teammates out with the language and culture in the same way that they had helped me when I first came to the United States.
Your parents were able to see you play during the Europe trip, but are they able to keep up with the team when they are so far away?
MT: My parents were able to come to our matches in Italy and Germany and during the rest of our matches they keep up with how we are doing on the Internet. They wake up at three or four in the morning sometimes to see the game or get online and follow the online scoring. A lot of the time I will come home from the game and I they will have left me instant messages saying "Good game" or "How did you play?" Even though they are very far away they are very close to me and they follow the team and I in everything we do.
… Have they been over to the United States to see you play?
MT: My parents came during my sophomore year and had a great time. They are coming again this year for the last match and for my graduation. They are actually coming for a whole month.
Fact Attack: Mira Topic
Favorite Place in Austin? Barton Springs
Volleyball: In the sand / On the court: On the court
If you're not on the court you're … Relaxing and having fun with my friends
Which reality show would you be on? I really don't know. I don't watch reality shows.
You would rather be … I would be relaxing with a coffee out in the sun.
Dinner for four. Who is there, dead or alive? I want to have dinner for five with my Mom, my Dad, and my two sisters.
What did you eat for dinner last night? I had the Great Wall of Chocolate from PF Changs. I didn't actually eat a meal I just wanted something sweet.
What is in your CD player right now? A CD from a Croatian singer I like very much named Oliver Dragojevic.
Neat/Messy: Very messy (she says laughing)
When you think of the University of Texas, you think? I think of pride and the fans. The fans are great here. I have never had better fans in my volleyball career.