Montreux, Switzerland, June 9, 2017- Sometimes when one decides to go on the journey to becoming a sports personality, involvement with that sport or rather the want for involvement with it never leaves the individual, even after retirement. And thus, it has proven to be the case with former Canada women’s international Setter Alexandra Lojen, who was simply unable to let go of her sporting lifestyle even after retirement, going on to study Sports Law and Management at Lausanne in Switzerland.
“Sport is still very much a part of my life”, Lojen recollected with a smile. “I was a volleyball player from the age of 12 until the age of 24 when I retired following injury. Since then I’ve always coached, always stayed in touch with my club team and still play for fun, so it’s still a big part of my life and always will be, just in a different way.”
For Lojen, sport had become such an integral part of her life that even though her days playing at her highest level were over, she was simply unable to phase that out of her daily routine, to the point where upon trying, she found herself unhappy and longing for that involvement back in her life.
“The only time I really moved out of the sport for a couple of years, I realised I wasn’t happy when I wasn’t involved in the sporting world”, she explained.
“That’s the reason that I went to Lausanne to study Sports Management, to get back into that world that I missed so much”.
Lojen’s story is also one with more than a hint of destiny. She owes it to chance that she became involved in the sport in the first place, before going on to achieve the ultimate honour of representing her country.
“In my case, I think I started playing entirely through circumstances”, Lojen explained. “When I was 11 years old, my best friend’s mother played and one day she suggested that we play volleyball. In response, I was like, ‘What is that sport? I’ve never heard of it.’ So, I thought to myself that I’d give it a try.
“At that point, I was quite an athletic young girl and playing different sports appealed to me. So, I played volleyball for the first time and enjoyed it. Then I started playing more and more, I got good at it and then I never really stopped”.
For any player of any sport, the starting points are usually the same. It begins by representing a school or a local club, before expanding to representation of a city or a region, eventually running up to the ultimate honour of playing internationally, a feat which Lojen never expected of herself, but which formed the pinnacle of her career. She would go on to feature in her country’s colours at two FISU Games showpieces, the first in 2009 in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, and once more in the Chinese city of Shenzhen in 2011.
“Obviously it was a huge honour playing for my country”, she said. “When you play a sport you usually start as a kid, and then you reach a level which doesn’t equate to representing your school or city but your country, and that is quite sobering.”
“It’s a true honour and something I never thought would actually happen in my life. I never believed I’d be able to do it, and so it was a great experience.”
Lojen’s achievements in competing for her country at two tournaments has coincided with an increase in the profile of volleyball in Canada overall, and has yielded some success recently particularly in the men’s national team, and Lojen is hopeful that volleyball can continue to grow in popularity.
“I think volleyball is certainly growing. Ice-hockey is the biggest sport here, but I decided from a young age that volleyball was the sport for me instead. I saw my brother playing (ice-hockey) and it didn’t look like too much fun!”.
If there is one message to take from Lojen’s story for any aspiring sports personality, it is to believe in their own ability, work hard, but most importantly, enjoy what they do. Even for a career that was cut short, the fulfilment from that sport is what demands it remain a part of one’s life, which renders that such an important part of the game’s significance in its community of followers and competitors worldwide.