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Profile of the Week: Coach Ivana Damnjanovic

By Bruna Pacheco
On January 17, 2020

Photo Illustration by Bruna Pacheco 

Did you know that our current Women’s Soccer GA here at OU was a player on the Serbian National Team? Or that she was also NAIA National Champion? NAIA Runner Up? Conference Champion all four years she was in college?

Coach Ivana Damnjanovic is originally from Lajkovac, Serbia and she is working at the moment on her Master’s Degree in Human Resources at Ottawa University. 

Before attending OU, she went to Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, where she was a member of the Soccer team. 

The beginning of a victorious career started during her freshman year when she became NAIA National Champion. It followed by being NAIA Runner Up as a sophomore. 

“I became Academic All Mid-South Conference Team as a sophomore and Junior and that is one of my special memories from playing soccer,” said Damnjanovic.

Following her successful career at Lindsey Wilson, she became the Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach at Campbellsville University where she stayed for one year prior to coming to OU. 

However, it was not an easy path for Coach Damnjanovic to get where she is today. She had to go through a few ups and downs. 

“I had a concussion on my freshman year and I’m just glad I could get my memory back,” Damnjanovic added. “I also had two surgeries in two years - arm in 2017 and knee in 2018. I came back and never stopped working on being better than yesterday!”

In fact, these ups and downs provided positive things not only on her but it was also able to impact the people around her.

“I played under Ivana GA’s position for a small period of time. I had to step away from the sport because of mental health reasons that went unresolved for too long. She helped me through them tremendously,” said Serena Douma, a previous member of the OU Soccer team. 

“From listening to me upset, eager to find a solution, to a 5 hour, one way might I add, car ride back from Iowa. What kind of GA would do that for a player they’ve only known for a short while? Her. The women’s team is lucky to have her intelligence on and off the field.”

All of these eventful years wouldn’t have taken place if it wasn’t for her brother. He is the reason she started playing soccer at the age of nine. Because he played soccer, she wanted to play as well. 

When she first began, she joined the same club that he used to play at; she was the only girl playing at an all boys’ academy. 

When she was 13, she had to move to Belgrade, Serbia; she had signed her first soccer contract. She would be playing at the Red Star-- the biggest soccer club in Serbia.

Later on, with 14-years old she started playing for the Serbian National Team, where she continued representing her country until she moved to the United States. 

“Playing the Europe championship in Turkey is a memory that I never want to forget,” she stated. 

Due to superstition, before every game she starts putting on her socks with the left foot first. Then, before walking onto the field, she likes to spend some time on her own to get focused and get in the right frame of mind. 

The Serbian soccer player is very thankful for all the coaches she had throughout her career -- especially the coaches from Lindsey Wilson and the Red Star. 

“They always pushed me and kept believing in me,” she says. “They made me believe that I am good and never gave up on me!”

Who would have ever thought that this small school in Kansas would be scoring big time having someone with so many accomplishments and so much to offer...

As a fun fact, Coach Damnjanovic enjoys watching Disney and Christmas movies, but her favorite one is actually the romantic comedy “Because I Said So.” 

She dreams to become a child’s psychologist one day. 


 

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