by Calli Newberry
Watch Elena Guc’s signing day below!
Cardinal Mooney senior Elena Guc is ready for her next adventure to the nation’s northernmost university.
The 6-foot middle hitter is heading to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to continue her volleyball career next fall while pursuing a degree in homeland security and emergency management.
“I am so far just super excited,” Guc said. “I don’t really have any nerves going there because it’s just going to be a big adventure for the next four years and I thought I might as well have something really cool to go through in college, so I’m more excited than anything.”
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
Guc celebrated her commitment last week at Cardinal Mooney High School as classmates, teammates, and family joined her as she signed her National Letter of Intent to join the Nanooks’ NCAA Division II volleyball program.
“It was super fun. A bunch of my family came out and a lot of my friends came and supported me, so it was fun,” she said. “It was a huge weight off my shoulders. It’s something I’d been doing for the past two years, so it’s definitely a big weight off my shoulders and I’m super excited to go there. It’s like my dream.”
Guc said originally she had planned to attend a school in West Virginia, but things fell through just as the Fairbanks’ coach reached out to her.
“I couldn’t be more thankful that it didn’t work out because that’s when Alaska reached out and I went out there and it was just exactly what I was looking for,” she said.
She’ll admit, however, that it took a visit to campus to convince her to travel that far north for college.
“At first when they reached out to me I was like, ‘Alaska? No way.’ But I went out there and completely fell in love with it,” she said. “The coaching staff is literally like family to me now and all the girls there were just so nice and so talented and I was like, ‘Yeah this is it for me.’”
In addition to looking forward to the next volleyball season with her new friends and teammates, Guc said the homeland security and emergency management degree happens to be a unique program that offers just what she was looking for.
“I looked into that more and it’s something that’s not available at most colleges, and I was like, ‘Wow this is something exactly like what I want to do.’ So it just all fit into place there,” she said. “It’s kind of going to be a stepping stone of going into law enforcement of some type, whether it be border patrol or police or fire, or something like that…It’s definitely going to be an adventure. It sounds like a really interesting job. Right now it’s wherever the road takes me, but I have an interest in the FBI or CIA.”
If anything has prepared Guc for this next adventure, it’s been the last three years of balancing a heavy course load of AP and honors classes, school sports, and travel volleyball.
She said she decided to not play basketball this winter after a tough-to-balance schedule last season as she would drive an hour and a half to her travel volleyball practices after spending her afternoon practicing basketball.
“It was just a lot last year and my travel practices were from 8 to 10 p.m. so it was like school and then basketball and then drive an hour and a half to get to practice, and then I wouldn’t get home until like 11:30 and I had all my homework, so it was a bit much,” she said. “I definitely think it will prepare me because it was a lot to do with time management last year, trying to not to keep my homework for like midnight, but it’s definitely going to prepare me.”
Along with her past experience to prepare her, she said she’s also made friends with some of her fellow incoming freshman teammates.
“When I went up there, two other girls were there who were also on a visit and now the two of them are like my best friends and they’re both signing there too,” Guc said. “I’m super happy that they came because now we’re really good friends.”
And outside of the court and classroom, she has a beautiful landscape to look forward to.
“I want to see the Northern lights too. It’ll be pretty. A lot of my teammates who are there already keep sending me pictures of it and I’m so jealous,” she said. “I think it’ll be cool. I can’t wait to see it.”
Even with all of the exciting adventures ahead, she said she’ll miss what the last four years of Cardinal Mooney volleyball has meant to her, including the support from head coach Troy Parsell.
“He was the biggest supporter, he always did the absolute most for our team and was always helpful,” she said. “He did everything he could so that we had an amazing year and we could be exactly where we needed to be so he is definitely one of the most important people in my volleyball career and in my life just because he’s such an amazing person.”
After he took over the program in 2019, the Cardinals won three consecutive District championship titles, which he credited much to Guc.
“I think every year our base for the next season got better. Obviously we’re going to miss Elena. She’ll be a big miss,” Parsell said. “Everybody helps, but without her it’d be almost impossible to do what we did. But I think the younger girls have seen that and grown from that and I think we’re going to be more balanced next year.”
Guc said she’ll be looking forward to seeing what her teammates accomplish next year.
“Overall, it’s so sad because our season just ended and it’s been an amazing journey the last four years,” she said. “I’m sad that it’s over, but I’m excited for the next four years and I’m excited to see what they do next year. It’s surreal.”