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Gorilla Student-Athlete Spotlight: Paula Okrutna

Gorilla Student-Athlete Spotlight: Paula Okrutna

Your support of the Pitt State Athletic Fund has a direct impact on Pitt State’s student-athletes and their coaches. Each individual has their own story about how they got to Pitt State and how your support has made an impact on them here at PSU.

Paula Okrutna, Women’s Volleyball
Hometown: Pila, Poland | Major: Psychology

At age 10, Paula Okrutna would have never imagined herself in another country playing collegiate volleyball. Originally from Pila, Poland, Okrutna is in her second season playing for the Gorilla Volleyball team.

“When I was 10, in elementary school, one of the volleyball coaches came to our class and asked for the tallest girls. Two of my friends and I were chosen for a tryout for the whole town. I didn’t know anything about volleyball,” Okrutna explained about her beginning experiences with volleyball. Since then, Paula played on a club team all throughout middle school and high school in Poland.

Okrutna originally transferred from Fort Scott Community College where she played one year for the Greyhounds under Coach Lindsay Hill. After earning NJCAA II Honorable Mention All-America, first team all-conference and all-district honors at Fort Scott, she became a Gorilla under Coach Ibraheem Suberu.

Last year she played outside hitter, and improved greatly this spring season. Suberu had high hopes for Okrutna to expand her role to all three front row attacker positions.

“Her versatility is now at a whole new dimension. We are so excited to see a full display because of what she did in the spring,” Suberu said.

Along with adjusting to the American style of play, Okrutna also had to get accustomed to the American way of life.

“Getting used to people has been the biggest adjustment in America, people here just have a different mentality than we do in Poland,” Okrutna explained. “People are not worried as much as people in Poland, I don’t want to say that life is easier here, but it is.”

But not everything in America is up to Okrutna’s standards. “Honestly, every international student will tell you, we do not like your food.” Okrutna confessed. “We don’t eat as much fast food as you guys do, here you just buy a box of mac and cheese and add milk and call it a meal.”

Okrutna has also had a positive impact on her teammates and coaches while being in the United States. Paula and fellow teammate Samantha Wyatt quickly became friends upon coming to Pittsburg State.

“It didn’t take long to become comfortable with Paula, she understands me better than anyone else I know. I’ve had plenty of close friends in my life but Paula is different, she is truly my best friend.” Wyatt explained.

Wyatt even accompanied Okrutna to Poland last Christmas break.

“Poland was amazing and changed my whole outlook on life, to see how they live was just an incredible experience I will never forget,” Wyatt said.

Assistant Coach Jenny Mueller also raved about the positive impact Paula has had on the Gorilla volleyball team.

“I feel like the greatest strength Paula brings to Pitt State volleyball is her commitment to compete. Paula is a dedicated player with a genuinely strong work ethic and an internal drive to succeed,” Mueller remarked.

“It is my hope that Paula’s overall academic, athletic and cultural learning experience here at Pitt State has been beneficial. Having her here as a part of our team has impacted my life in a very positive way and I’m grateful because I know she has also influenced the lives of many others.”

On the court, Okrutna wishes to gain a spot on the all-conference list in the MIAA this year. Off the court, she plans to return back to Poland and join the Polish Navy after graduating from Pittsburg State with a management degree.

“My favorite part about being a Gorilla is the people and the community. The community support is awesome, and I have met so many great people that helped me a lot which has made this stay unforgettable,” Okrutna revealed.


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