NORFOLK (WAVY) – Ece Turkoglu has been a big part of the recent success of the Old Dominion women’s soccer team.

She’s helped lead the Monarchs to back-to-back conference championships while being more than 5,000 miles away from her family.

“I was so nervous,” Turkoglu said. “The whole team was so nice to me and I was like, I think that’s the team I want to play (for).”

In an ironic twist, the Turkey native received a disturbing phone call last month while studying for a Natural Hazards and Disasters class.

“I was doing my earthquake homework literally on my bed about how it affects people,” Turkoglu said, “and I got called from my friend that the earthquake just happened.”

The death toll from the 7.7-magnitude quake has reached upwards of 41,000 people.

Turkoglu’s family was spared, but she was determined to help.

“I contacted Angie (head coach Angie Hind)) first and said I want to do something to help Turkey,” Turkoglu said.

“From there my thought was is Ece okay and how can we help,” Hind said. “How can we help with her family, how can we help Ece help her people?”

That’s when Turkoglu had an idea to gather essential supplies, ship them to the Turkish Embassy and them sent to her home country and her ODU soccer family stepped up.

“The next day they were bringing sweatshirts, jackets, coats, hand warmers, head bands, even baby socks,” Turkoglu said. “I packed them and Angie helped me ship them.”

Turkoglu, who plays for the Turkish national team, graduates in December and hopes to return to see her family in the next couple of months.

As for life after ODU?

“I want to play professional soccer, probably in the United States,” Turkoglu said.

With her leadership on and off the field, the sky’s the limit for Ece Turkoglu.