When opportunity comes knocking at your door, there are really only two choices to pick from.
Either leave the door locked, or open the door to see what it offers.
Ottawa's Mackenzie Rombach was recently presented that situation, and says she couldn't get the door open fast enough.
Rombach, a 2015 graduate of Ottawa High School, a two-time Times Volleyball Player of the Year and a four-year starter at Jacksonville State University, recently signed to play professionally for ProWin Volleys TV Holz out of Saarbrücken, Saarland, Germany. A biology major, Rombach graduated from JSU in May.
"Originally my plan was to go to medical school and apply for those after graduation, but this past season my coach here at Jacksonville State, Todd Garvey, mentioned to me the possibility of playing overseas," said Rombach. "At that time I was still undecided on if I wanted to go on to medical school or graduate school, but I always had the thought of playing professional volleyball in the back of my mind."
Garvey, who previously coached at Purdue and Ohio University, had strong contacts in Europe, and Rombach also had help from Nick Ptaschinski — Director of Player Management and Women's Placement at Bring It Promotions. BIP is a volleyball travel agency that has specialized in international volleyball tours and events as well as professional career development since 1996.
"A month ago, a team contacted Coach Garvey to let him know they were hoping I would be interested in playing for them. The team had seen film on me (thorugh BIP), and I guess liked what they saw," said Rombach, who also said she has never been to Europe. "Once I heard that, I jumped at the chance. I remember thinking, 'This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I need to do this while I'm still young and able to do it.' "
In her four-year career at JSU, Rombach played in 136 matches and 506 sets, compiling 1,000 kills, 473 blocks, 180 digs and 40 aces.
Rombach, who was one of the top blockers in the nation on the volleyball court while also excelling in the classroom (4.0 GPA) and in the community over her career, received JSU's Eagle Owl Award. The award is given each year to a male and a female JSU senior athlete who excels in his or her sport, is a positive role model for others and exemplifies the well-rounded student-athlete. She made the Commissioner's Honor Roll each year as well as been awarded the Ohio Valley Conference Academic Medal of Honor.
Rombach said her report date is August 1, and the season runs from September 14 through April 30. ProWin Volleys TV Holz's team has a manager to help foreign players get settled with housing and anything else they would need. Rombach said she'll be sharing an apartment with another international player from Canada.
"When I initially signed and was talking to my coaches, they all speak English and most of my teammates do as well, so communication, at least inside the team, shouldn't be a problem. Outside the team, everyday life away from the game, that may be a different story," Rombach said with a laugh.
Rombach says that her focus is on volleyball now with this opportunity, but she fully intends to pursue finishing her schooling and move on to her career in the medical field.
"I did get into a graduate program before this chance came up," Rombach said. "I'm interested in, and this sounds so bizarre, but infectious diseases. My ideal career one day would be to help prevent these types of diseases and find ways to help stop the spread of them if they do happen. I wanted to go into the health field, because I want to help people."
At least for the next year or so, Rombach will be trying to help ProWin Volleys TV Holz win matches, while also exploring the culture in and surrounding Germany.
"I'm really excited for this," Rombach said.