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Orehek was the top Gator finisher at the Bryan National Collegiate last month, her best of the season.

Tuesday April 9, 2013Ursa Orehek: Finding Herself and Her Game At the Right Time

Gainesville, Fla.

Orehek was the top Gator finisher at the Bryan National Collegiate last month, her best of the season.

By: Jimena Panduro (UF Communications)


Being a freshman, Gator golfer Ursa Orehek has had to get used to many of the things first-years deal with upon their arrival on the University of Florida campus. Just like all incoming students, she had to leave home, move into a dorm, figure out how to get to classes, make new friends.

Unlike most of them however, Ursa came from Slovenia.

Having lived there her whole life, Orehek’s native language is not English, she’s not used to eating burger and fries, and in general, the American lifestyle is just odd to her.

Making this transition to the other side of the world was not easy, but as luck would have it, she quickly found a piece of home alongside a fellow Gator student-athlete here in Gainesville. Suddenly, everything just seemed a bit better.

She is, of course, referring to Živa Recek, a freshman standout for the Gator volleyball team, who like Ursa, hails from Slovenia as well.

Orehek really believes that having this kind of company here in America has definitely helped her ease into her game. She now feels stronger, more confident and ready to play without any outside difficulties.

“At first, it was hard because I didn’t know what to expect with anything”, Orehek admits. “But it’s so much easier because I have Živa here. We’re both from Slovenia, I can speak with her in Slovenian and we hang out a lot when neither of us is busy with either volleyball or golf. Everything here is different and she went through the same issues I had, so we helped each other and I think that has helped both of us a lot.”

It tends to be said that the friends you make in college will become your family, but for Ursa, who’s family is miles and miles away, this saying has never been truer, and having Živa and her teammates really means a lot to her.

“It feels like I still have family here.  Having Živa is great, and my team is just amazing. They help me a lot and that eases everything.”

Though she might have struggled with all of the changes life threw at her early on, Ursa finally feels looser, calmer, and more like herself again.

This was never clearer than at the Gator’s last tournament, the Bryan National Collegiate, when Orehek was the highest individual finisher for the Orange and Blue. She posted a career-best performance, as she, for the first time as a Gator, shot one-under (71) in the final round.

“It felt good”, she says. “I am far away from home so I think I needed some time to adjust and I feel like I have finally adjusted to everything here. There were just so many new things in the beginning; all of a sudden I had to play team golf, I wasn’t used to that. And I was on the other side of the world; everything was new. We’ve been practicing a lot and I can finally say that I’m feeling more comfortable and that allows me to play better.”

It might have taken a few months and several new experiences for Ursa Orehek to finally break through and embrace her new surroundings, but the timing could not be better.

As post season quickly approaches for the fifth-ranked women’s golf team, every bit of confidence helps and with the success the team has had this year, we can be sure to expect even greater things as the season comes to a close.

Much may still be unknown about Orehek’s future, but the life changes she had to go through this year can be a telling-tale of the athlete she is. Not many are willing to leave it all behind to pursue a passion, but she did and without thinking about it twice, jumped into this challenge ready for the unexpected.

For Ursa, this year has marked the start of a promising and prosperous Gator career. During her time in Florida, she hopes to become a better golfer and strives to one day play as a professional.

As for how she sees her next three years panning out? She will just take it all in and live one day at a time.

“I guess we’ll see what happens”, she finally says, with a glint of excitement in her eyes.


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