“Once I put the jersey on, that’s when I think I’ll realize that I’m representing USA,” Kaufman was quoted as saying in a K-State release. “Just to be able to be a part of something like that is so huge.”
Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, third capital of Russia, and lies on the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka rivers. With a population of about 1.2 million people, it is Russia’s eighth-largest city.
Kazan is more than 1,000 years old with a unique complex of archeological, historical and architectural monuments.
The city has particular significance for Kaufman, whose family emigrated from Kazan to the United States.
“I’m looking forward to going over there and seeing the culture and spending time in the village and being around some of the top athletes in the world,” Kaufman said.
Her parents, Tim and Debbie Kaufman of rural Durham, are entertaining the idea of making the trip to watch their daughter represent the U.S.—and perhaps connect with relatives.
“We’re really excited, we’d like to try to go,” Debbie said. “I don’t know if we’ll get the chance, but we both probably have relatives over there right now that we’ve never met. Two of my aunts were actually born over there.”
Opening ceremonies for the World University Games will be July 6. K-State will play matches against Russia, Poland and Czech Republic during pool play.
The athletes will stay in special housing similar to the Olympic Village and compete in state-of-the-art venues that have hosted other prestigious events and championship competitions.
To prepare for the Games, K-State will be permitted to hold unlimited practices at the conclusion of the spring semester, which could benefit the team next fall.
“We get an opportunity to get some extra time together, which, I think is a huge benefit just in preparation for the fall and in our ability to continue to develop relationships with our athletes, and for our athletes to develop relationships with each other,” Fritz said.
The Wildcats went 21-9 last fall and made it to the NCAA tournament, losing in the first round to Northern Iowa.
In her junior season, Kaufman played in 56 of her team’s 103 sets. She was sixth on the team in both kills (72) and blocks (23).