Steamboat Springs Tara King learned a lot while playing professional volleyball in Vordingborg, Denmark.
The 2006 Steamboat Springs High School graduate read lots of books, did plenty of research on random things and found herself with an inordinate amount of free time on her hands.
But the nine-month season in a far-off place helped King learn something else: She still really loves the game of volleyball.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done being away from everything,” said King, who returned to Steamboat on Tuesday. “But I grew a lot as a person, and I still really love the game of volleyball. It was a fun opportunity to grow and travel and to keep playing.”
King, a three-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference selection at Colorado Mesa University, played in the Danish Elite League. She had tried out last winter and got a contract to play in Denmark. She left in August.
The 12-person team included five Americans and a Norwegian in addition to teammates from Denmark.
Earning a paycheck to play the game she loves took some getting used to. King always has been a girl on the go, but in Denmark, and Vordingborg in particular, there wasn’t much to do. She didn’t have classes, she wasn’t playing other sports and she wasn’t a coach.
“Over there,” she said, “all I had to do was play volleyball.”
It was a unique experience. She started to learn Danish and would go to local schools to work with children. She read constantly and did research papers — for fun — on subjects that interested her.
She also played some pretty good volleyball.
Her team, the Vordingborg Club Team, advanced to the semifinals of the Danish Elite League.
She compared the level of volleyball to that of Colorado Mesa University. And as the only setter on the team, a lot was on her shoulders.
The biggest difference, she said, was that many of her teammates weren’t used to how loud the Americans are on the court. King usually would call out plays a couple of times.
“My coach said, ‘You can only say it once because you’re scaring the hitters,’” she said.
King said she is glad to be back home in Steamboat. She had several offers from other teams in Denmark to continue playing, but she declined.
She said she would like to play one more year professionally but in another part of the world.
“I’m going to give it one more chance to see if it is what I want to do,” she said. “I knew if I didn’t do it one more year, I would have regretted it.”
Until then, she’ll enjoy her Steamboat summer. She plans to host several local volleyball clinics for children.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com