Cliff diving into the Adriatic Sea. Zipping down a mountain on an alpine coaster. Roaming ancient, cobbled streets in search of ice cream. Oh, and a volleyball tournament against all-star teams from around the world. These were some of the experiences afforded to Annie Kaminski, a middle blocker on Boise State’s volleyball team, who was one of two Broncos to travel to Pula, Croatia, in July 2023 as part of the Mountain West composite team.
“It was amazing. I’ve never been overseas before, so that was a complete culture shock,” she said.
Kaminski comes from an athletic family. Her father played football at the University of Utah, and her mother was a state tennis champion. Inspired by their parents, she and her brother tried a variety of sports growing up. After moving from Utah to Bellevue, Idaho, while in junior high, Kaminski discovered a passion for volleyball. She played from junior high through high school and was on a competitive travel team for two years before graduation. She then came to play at Boise State, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in K-12 Physical Education and Health.
Donors who value athletes having new experiences on and off the court funded the recent trip, said volleyball head coach Shawn Garus. Boise State has sent players to the tournament since 2013, and Garus was the Mountain West All-Stars’ coach at the 2016 tournament.
“When I coached that team, I saw what an opportunity it was for the athletes to travel and grow as part of their college experience,” he said. The experience, he added, helped prepare Kaminski to be a team leader.
Off the court, Kaminski participates in the BroncoLife program that helps student-athletes become positive influencers in the community during their college careers and after. Garus said he can see the impact this program has had on Kaminski.
“She will volunteer to work with kids anytime and it’s a great experience for an aspiring teacher,” he said. “She does an amazing job interacting with young fans and she’s the number one player kids want to see and get autographs from after the match.”
Kaminski credits these experiences for her success at Boise State.
“The university is focused on creating well-rounded individuals, both in athletics and academics,“ she said. “I’m very grateful for all the opportunities that I’ve had.”
By George Thoma