While Maya Wasowicz's New York University women's basketball teammates were preparing for the 2014-15 season in early November, she was roughly 4,000 miles away.
Wasowicz, a junior captain on the team, spent the early part of November at the 22nd Karate World Championships in Bremen, Germany, where she finished in seventh place in the world in the female elite Kumite +68 kg division. Of the 10 fighters representing the United States in Germany, Wasowicz -- a New York City native -- was the only one to finish among the top eight of their division.
Kumite is a form of karate with an emphasis on control and technique. Matches are two minutes long and based on a point system. Points are earned for successful punches, body kicks, take downs, and head kicks.
Wasowicz qualified for the Karate World Championships with a first-place finish at the USA Karate Nationals, which were held in Reno, Nevada, in July. In addition to qualifying for the World Championships, Wasowicz's success at the national tournament also qualified her for the Pan American Championships in Toronto on March 19 and the North American Cup in Las Vegas on April 5, 2015.
Wasowicz has had no issues balancing international success in karate with her basketball career as a Violet and the tough academic requirements all NYU student-athletes encounter.
"It is a little easier for me than it may be for others because of the people around me," Wasowicz said. "My coaches are extremely supportive. If I'm ever struggling, my friends and family are always there to help me figure things out."
Through eight games this season, Wasowicz has helped the No. 11 Violets jump out to an undefeated start. She has contributed in every game thus far, including a career-high 15-point effort in a season-opening win against Western Connecticut State. She's currently averaging 6.8 points per game and is 17-for-19 (.895) from the free-throw line.
"Maya brings a great deal of resiliency and confidence to our team," NYU coach Lauren Hall-Gregory said. "Her success in karate has helped separate her from the average student-athlete and also plays a part in our team's success. I consider myself lucky to coach her."