BGSU head volleyball coach nationally recognized for encouraging student-athletes to vote

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Fostering a connected learning community, Bowling Green State University head volleyball coach Danijela Tomic has earned national recognition for her nonpartisan efforts to increase voter participation, particularly among student-athletes.

Tomic is one of only two coaches nationwide – and the only in Ohio – honored with a 2023 Collegiate Athletic Coach award from ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for encouraging student-athletes to be involved in the democratic process, exercise their right to vote and be civically engaged members of the community.

“My mission as a coach is to develop leaders of character and champions on and off the court,” Tomic said. “We live in one of the oldest democracies in the world, and democracy only works if people stay engaged in the process. Part of being a leader is exercising your right to vote.”

Tomic said she was humbled by the recognition.

“It’s a huge honor to receive this award,” she said. “I know there are a lot of well-deserving coaches who are also doing great work encouraging their student-athletes to vote and become engaged citizens. I’m just doing what I think is the right thing to do. I’m humbled to represent BGSU and be part of this wonderful University.”

In her 12 seasons at BGSU, Tomic has led the Falcons to their first NCAA tournament win in the school’s history, earned back-to-back MAC Tournament victories and was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2017. During the 2023 season, the Falcons advanced to the MAC Championship for the fifth straight year.

As a native of Catici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tomic gained U.S. citizenship in 2017 and said she’s never taken her right to vote for granted, a passion she shares with her volleyball team.

“Coach Tomic’s efforts and collaborations within our University and community demonstrate her leadership and dedication to voter engagement,” Dr. Jacob Clemens, senior director of the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, wrote in nominating Tomic for the award.

Tomic educates her team on what issues are on the ballot and shares voter registration deadlines, early voting options and other relevant resources.

Expanding advocacy efforts into the BGSU learning community, Tomic and her team have helped register new voters and encourage voter participation by volunteering with BGSU Votes, a nonpartisan, student-led initiative at the University.

Tomic said her efforts are making an impact. In 2022, 100% of the eligible voters on the volleyball team voted. Similarly, the entire team registered to vote in 2023.

Tomic regularly volunteers as a poll worker and hasn’t missed an opportunity to vote since she became an eligible voter in an effort to model the behavior she encourages of her student-athletes.

Volleyball team captain Hannah Best, who joined the volleyball team as a redshirt freshman in 2020, said she values Tomic’s perspective and commitment to voter advocacy.

“She always shares with us why voting is so important to her. It’s something she’s really proud of,” Best said. “She does a really good job of explaining why it matters, especially in local elections. I’ve learned from her what a privilege it is to vote."

Updated: 01/24/2024 02:08PM