Slivina, who spent the first 11 years of her life in Russia before her family moved to Kyiv, has always had a strong spiritual connection to Ukraine and to her family. The day the invasion began, she stayed home from school, eyes glued to the news, awaiting text messages from home. Her 19-year-old brother had to stay in Ukraine because men cannot leave the country, and her mother, a doctor, decided to stay to care for the wounded.
With the help of support staff, coaches, and teammates, Slivina was able to handle her emotions and continue to perform at the highest level.
She is once again a bright shining light on the USC women’s rowing team and brings her positive spirit and energy to practice every day, no matter what is happening back home. An international relations and social sciences major, she trained in taekwondo until age 15, and at the suggestion of a physical education teacher, she transitioned to rowing. She competed for Ukraine at the 2020 and 2021 European Championships, and last year, she competed in 15 regattas for the Trojans, earning top five finishes at three events.
“Immediately following the start of the conflict, I became very sensitive to things that I wouldn’t be sensitive to otherwise,” she said. “I remember last spring that when one of my coaches said some completely normal things to me, I cried because my mental state was off. With the help of the sports psychologists at USC, my friends, and my teammates, and the passage of time, I have been able to regain a bit of normalcy. I still get upset when I receive news from Ukraine, but I have learned that it is okay to not always be okay.”