July 18, 2012
Kuusamo, a city hard on Finland's eastern border with Russia, is 40 miles from the Arctic Circle. In less than a month, former Griz volleyball player Amy Roberts will be alighting in Kuusamo and feeling like she's on top of the world.
Roberts signed a professional contract recently to continue her volleyball career in Kuusamo for a team that competes in Finland's second division.
Roberts becomes the second player from Montana coach Jerry Wagner's class of 2007 to sign a professional contract to play in Europe. Jaimie Thibeault signed a contract with the Italian team Lavoro Doc Pontecagnano last December.
"I'm excited because this is what I've always wanted to do," says Roberts, who concluded her Griz career last November and had her No. 6 uniform retired by Lincoln County High in December.
"At the same time I'm also nervous because this is a big step. I'm moving across the world to play volleyball with people I don't know."
Roberts did not say the same thing when she signed a National Letter of Intent with Montana back in November 2006, but the similarities are there.
"The feelings are the same," she continues. "You are going to a new team, you don't really know anyone, and you don't know how good everyone is going to be, so you don't know where you are going to fit in.
"You don't know if you're going to be the low man on the totem pole or if you're going to come in and be expected to be one of the better players. It's almost exactly the way I was feeling before I joined the Griz."
If the correlation continues, the volleyball fans of Kuusamo, a city of 17,000 better known for its 200 days of snow and ski-centric activities, will remember Roberts' name when her time in the city is done.
Roberts, who was a second-team All-Big Sky Conference selection as a sophomore in 2008, finished her Montana career with 1,110 kills and 1,153 digs. She was one of only seven players in Griz volleyball history to reach 1,000 in both categories.
She was a three-time Academic All-Big Sky Conference selection and graduated in December with a 3.55 grade point average as a math education major.
Roberts, of Eureka, Mont., was offered a contract by Kuusamo on June 14 and had to make her decision by June 17. "I did a lot of information-gathering in two days," she says with a laugh when recalling the hectic few days.
Her contract runs from Aug. 15 through March 15 and will be extended into April if Kuusamo makes the postseason. Her contract provides her an apartment and one meal per day. Her salary will cover the rest of her meals and expenses.
"When I was little I always thought I would try to be a professional athlete. It didn't matter the sport. It was just about getting paid to play something," Roberts says.
"This is that dream coming true. I'm going to be getting paid to play volleyball."
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