Student-Athlete Spotlight: Sophia Spralja

Sophia during a soccer game.  Credit: GoGryphons

Sophia during a soccer game. Credit: GoGryphons

I played soccer with Scout (Sophia’s nickname) as an incoming freshmen. She was the only one on the team I felt instantly comfortable with on and off the field. Her skill level in soccer was initially intimidating, but it was quickly overpowered by her warmth and welcoming presence. She shines brighter than anyone through her actions on the field, but remains humble in her deeper passion for the sport.” - Elise Drapeau (current roommate and one-year teammate)

“Sophia's personality shines through on the pitch. Her creativity in passing and weaving around defenders is parallel to the dexterity and deftness with which she articulately weaves together complex thoughts. It is clear that she is not satisfied with knowing dates or facts, but must understand somethings true essence. She da bomb.” - Abe Lange (two-year classmate)

“What impresses me about Sophia is not only her soccer skills, but how her personality and leadership were essential to create a culture of excellence in the SLC Women’s Soccer Program.” - Lucas Simon-Ardillones (friend and member of men’s soccer team)

Q: When did you start playing sports?

I started playing soccer when I was 4 years old.

Q: How did you start playing sports?

I’m the youngest in my family, and I was in tow to all their soccer games and practices. When it came time for me to pick a sport, it was no question. I knew I wanted to play soccer from the very beginning. Also, my dad is Croatian, and the national sport there is soccer. In fact, my grandpa was the national team goalie for Croatia. Soccer has been imbedded in my upbringing—no escaping it really.  

Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals or pre-game meals?

No rituals or pre game meals; I just play.

Q: When did you realize that you love playing sports?

I’ve always known because of my upbringing, that soccer was going to be a part of my life. But my love for the sport did grow when I went abroad to Oxford. I made the Blues (the top women’s team in Oxford) and once that season ended, I signed with a pro team called Oxford United. It was an amazing experience to say the least. I miss being in a country where everyone lives and breathes football (not soccer!).

Q: What role do you play on your team?

I am one of the captains on the team, so being vocal is one of my roles. I like to dictate and set plays. But, my vocal role extends beyond the field. My role is to be an advocate for females in all sport. Title IX grants equal opportunity for us, but there is still oppressive forces that we face.  For example, a few games ago, my team was getting yelled at by the opposing men’s soccer team that were on the sidelines. Being a female athlete, you are already defying prescriptive roles, by being on the field playing. But being yelled at or taunted by the fans is frustrating because I want to be respected and not interrupted or distracted by the comments from the sideline. In the end, I want to protect my team and have them be taken seriously as athletes.

Q: How have athletics shaped you to become the person you are today?

To be involved in athletics and to be called an athlete is something I've embraced my whole life. I find a lot of power especially in being a female athlete—it has given me a lot of security in my ability and inspired me to take risks on the field and in the classroom. Yet I understand there was a time when being a female athlete was not looked at as a positive or powerful experience.   I thrive off this opportunity to compete in hope to continue the tradition of inspiring other females that the field or court is not just a man’s space but a female’s. I feel fortunate for all the female athletes before me that have made it possible for me to feel confident and unashamed to say, “I am a female athlete.”

Q: Describe yourself in three adjectives.

Passionate, authentic, and fun.

Q: Besides athletics, what are some other activities with which you are involved at SLC?

I interned off-campus for a female fashion photographer during my first two years at Sarah Lawrence. I did set and lighting design. I helped shoot campaigns for Kate Spade, who was our major client. I also worked at the Hudson River Museum in their Curatorial Costume Department during my sophomore year. I currently freelance in the city for music videos and photo shoots when I have time. On campus, I did the Right to Write through Office of Community Partnerships. I participated in the Mommy Reads Program. I met with incarcerated mothers and grandmothers to create a children’s book for their child or grandchild. Additionally, I was a cofounder in the Outdoor Adventure Club. The club offers free backpacking and expedition trips to students. In the past, we have charted a bus filled with Sarah Lawrence students and community members to the People’s Climate Change March in DC.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

Surfing, skating, hiking, photography, going to museums, and hitting the beach.

Q: What is something that most people may not assume/know about being a student athlete at SLC?

I don’t get more financial aid or “paid to play”—no athlete on campus does. I play because I love the sport and to be part of a team. Also, I don’t get special privileges regarding more time for assignments or deadlines extensions. Another misconception is that athletes have a better chance of getting accepted. The only thing us athletes do good is maybe get Chipotle after an away game. This proves that if a student plays a sport on this campus, they do it for the love of the sport and the team.

Q: What is your most memorable moment as a Sarah Lawrence Gryphon?

Making playoffs this year is the most memorable moment for me as a Gryphon. It’s exciting because I remember playing with numbers down because we didn’t have enough to fill a roster and getting crushed every single game. Now we compete and are going to playoffs. I wouldn’t have thought this was a possibility during my time here. I’m proud of the girls on the current team who have stepped the level up this year. It’s also a true testament to the females who played on this team before I attended Sarah Lawrence. They started the team and would lace up, throw a jersey on, and commute to matches knowing they were going to lose in order for a women’s soccer team to exist. They made the team possible and I hope we made them proud by our playoff bid.  

Q: What is a motto that motivates you to work hard in your athletic and academic endeavors?
Have courage and be kind.

Q: Who is the person you call after a bad day?

Emmamazy Prior.

Q: An account to follow on social media?

@kook_of_the_day. It's a funny Instagram account that shows surfers wiping out.

Q: Favorite-

Song: Wasn’t Me by Shaggy

Food: Peanut Butter

Professional Sports Team: Croatia National Team (hrvatska negozi savez) or Tottenham Spurs

Athlete: Zidane

T.V. Show: That `70s Show

Book: Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader

Spot at Sarah Lawrence: Still trying to find one after all these years!

Q: This or That-

Text or Call? Call

Phone or Laptop? Laptop

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate (with Peanut Butter)

Early Bird or Night Owl? Both

Cook or Order Delivery? Cook

Uber or Lyft? Uber

Bates or Pub? Neither—I’m not on meal plan

Stop & Shop or Trader Joe’s? Trader Joe’s

Palden Lhamo ‘22

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.