Yuliyana Valcheva wanted to become a better basketball player and she will get that chance next season after signing to play for the women’s basketball team at Western Nebraska Community College.
“I choose WNCC because I wanted to be a better player,” Valcheva said. “I saw in WNCC a good opportunity to achieve my goals because of the good quality of education and sport. It is also a chance to realization and preparation for the professional future life.”
Valcheva comes to WNCC from Varna, Bulgaria, where she was a 6-foot-1 forward for her high school team. She earned the MVP honors in the national championship in 2016.
WNCC coach Chad Gibney said Valcheva fits into the culture of the women’s basketball program.
“Yuliyana is a long, tall, athletic skilled forward,” Gibney said. “She does a really good job of finishing with either hand around the basket. She is athletic enough that she can get out and run up and down the floor and fit in an up-tempo system. We are excited because she fits our culture as far as understanding what it takes to be successful from coming from a winning program and she has shown the dedication of wanting to be a really good player.”
Valcheva has an impressive background on the basketball court. She was a 4-time national champion of Bulgaria for Cherno More Odesos, three times national champions of Bulgaria for her high school team of First Language School, and participated in three European Championships with the National team from Bulgaria.
She earned four individual awards, twice for rebounds and twice for top scorer.
This season, she has appeared in 41 games, averaging a double-double of 14 points and 10.9 rebounds. For her career in 239 games, she is averaging nine points, 7.5 rebounds, three assists, and 1.2 steals a game.
Valcheva, who was also looking at Sheridan College and Western Wyoming Community College, said the season is going well.
“We are playing in the best and most competitive league in our country and we have a lot of wins, mostly in home games,” she said. “But there are also some lost games, too.”
Gibney likes that experience that he is getting, not only with Valcheva, but the previous two players he signed with Marisol Silva of New Mexico and Taylor Joplin of Wichita, Kansas.
“We have been able to add that length and athleticism and that ability to defend in multiple positions,” Gibney said. “We look for quickness. We look for length. We look for athleticism. We look for toughness. She fits that mold and we are excited for her to come over to the United States and show her that warm Cougar welcome.”
For Valcheva, she wants to get better as a player and receive an education. She plans to major in media and communications and to specialize in journalism.
“My goals are connected with both education and basketball,” she said. “II will strive for great grades, passing all of my exams and play basketball on high level.”
Valcheva is looking forward to starting a new chapter in the United States and leaving her high school in Bulgaria.
“It would be really emotional to wear the T-shirt with the name of my favorite school for the last time, but I think that everyone should go through this,” she said. “The reason is because life is changing constantly and we must learn from our past, not to live in it.”