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People Story Yoana Kalfinova

Her colleagues and friends know Yoana as a very dynamic and energetic girl with a good sense of humor! And she describes herself as an adventurous person and when you read her story, you will see why! Currently, Yoana is a captain of a women’s volleyball team called Hector in the professional Bulgarian league and Strypes is happy to support her and her team in their journey and wishes them good luck! Now, let’s get to the story of Yoana Kalfinova

Most of the highschool students in Eastern Europe who are into sports on a professional level have one big dream – to continue their studies in the land of unlimited possibilities – USA because of the scholarships for sports people there and of course, the great conditions and opportunities the states give to young individuals.

Once she was in high school, Yoana knew it – she will continue her studies abroad where she can still practice volleyball.

  • Yoana, tell us how your passion for volleyball was born?
  • When I was little I was forced to play piano, to do acting and to go to drawing lessons. However, I have always been a competitive type of a person, even as a child so I signed myself up (without asking my family) for basketball, volleyball, and sports orientation classes. It was overwhelming, of course, so at some point I had to make a decision which one to pursue on a next level. I was 4-5th grade back then and many people were telling me that sports will lead me nowhere (it is a common saying here in Bulgaria) and I’d better focus on my studies. When I think of it… it is my 20th anniversary playing volleyball this year! I had many injuries from this sport when I was still in school, so I needed to stop for a while (1 year) but I was 100% determined to get back on track. And then, one year before my high school graduation I started playing volleyball again and earned a scholarship at a university in the US.

And this is how Yoana got to the States where she was able to get a degree in Accounting while still playing volleyball. “Our daily schedule was really tough at college”, shares Yoana: 6am – training session, 8 or 9am – the classes begun, lunch time, classes again, 3-6pm volleyball again, dinner, study time. And of course, we had tournaments as well, usually during the weekend, so often the studying for the upcoming week was done while traveling.”

  • And what happened with you and your volleyball passion after graduation?
  • I remember my last volleyball match at college – I was so sad, thinking that I will never play volleyball again (this was 8 years ago), at least not at that professional level. Then, I started working for an audit company in Maryland. But you can imagine that for an active and adventurous person like me, this felt like a cage. So, I decided to move back to Europe. 

This is how Yoana got to live in London for half a year but this was not her place at all. So she decided to move back to Bulgaria. Accidentally (or not) she met the Strypes team at one career forum in the Bulgarian Embassy in London. It was love at first sight for both sides and this is how 5 days later Yoana was back in Bulgaria, working for Strypes for 8 years now!

Yoana Kalfinova Beach Volleyball, Strypes
  • And what’s your favorite thing about Strypes?
  • I love the people here, the atmosphere is friendly rather than a corporate one. Strypes not only supports its employee’s after-work passions but the management is always open to new ideas and initiatives. For instance we created an in-house Charity club. We organize charity lunches and other charity events and donate the funds to many different causes. The most fun one is the Christmas auction, again organized by the Charity Club usually during the Christmas parties. Everybody is selling different things like handmade stuff, personal objects, etc. and that way we manage to collect funds for a charity cause.
  • You seem to be used to combining a lot of things in your everyday routine. You play volleyball on a professional level again, isn’t it overwhelming with a full time job?
  • Oh, it is. Currently I am the captain of a volleyball team that plays in the professional league – Bulgarian Women Demax League, and my schedule is almost filled in with work and volleyball only. My only day off is Sunday. Since September 2022 I went back to a schedule similar to the one I used to have while playing in college in the US. I wake up, drink coffee and start with my work day, I finish around 6pm. and then I leave for training at around 6:30pm. The team I play for is training in Dragoman, which is about an hour and a half away from home during rush hour. Then two hours of volleyball or fitness training and another hour going back home. Quick dinner at 11pm. And then going to sleep. Basically I do not have as much social life as before and my only free time is Saturday evening after a game and Sunday-day off.

  • We saw Yoana, the volleyball player and Yoana the professional. But what are you up to when your adventurous self goes into action?
  • You actually saw Yoana the volleyball player, but I also have history as a beach volleyball player. When I started working for Strypes I understood about a beach volleyball tournament in Palma De Mallorca, so I went to compete even though beach volleyball is not the same as the one I was used to playing. I played almost professionally for almost 3 years. Strypes supported our (me and my beach volleyball partner) adventure too and helped us attend beach volleyball world series in Spain and in Italy! Other than this, I am always keen on trying new sports and experiences as a whole, so my next on the list is kite surfing! Apart from sports I am always open for adventure. Recently, I was in Zanzibar and a few days after I came back home I made a last minute decision to travel to Jordan. So traveling also takes a huge part in my heart.
  • Tell us a bit more about your traveling adventures!
  • Well, I love traveling and exploring new places, different cultures and their local traditions, cuisines and way of living. One of the best things to do while traveling is to experiment with different things that you have never tried before. For instance, I swam with stingrays, sea turtles, sharks, and dolphins in the ocean. I am an animal lover too, so wherever I go, I do my best to explore the local flora and fauna too. My favorite places so far are: Zanzibar, Egypt, Maldives… and Barcelona… I love Barca! Other than that, I have traveled a lot in the States – I’ve visited 22 of them, also in Europe, but on my “to visit list” is Japan, Singapore, South America and many more!
  • As a final: describe your Stypes adventure in 5 words:
  • Friends having fun while working!

We hope that Yoana’s story has inspired you to live your life to the fullest and enjoy every minute of it. Do that thing that scares you, get out of your comfort zone, travel, be active, follow your dreams and have fun – that is what it’s all about!

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