SSHS alumna reflects on UCLA, playing pro overseas | SteamboatToday.com

SSHS alumna reflects on UCLA, playing pro overseas

Luke Graham

Katie Carter stands at the Howelsen Hill volleyball courts Friday. Carter recently returned from Puerto Rico, Spain and the Canary Islands, where she played professionally.

— Even Katie Carter admits she may never have an answer about what she eventually wants to do.

But as Carter prepares to finish up her degree at UCLA, the 2003 Steamboat Springs High School graduate is certain of one thing.

Volleyball – whether it’s playing or coaching – will always be in the plans.

“When you think about it, I’ve been around volleyball the past 12 years,” said Carter, who will leave this week to go back to UCLA and finish up classes. “It’s what I have the most knowledge in. Plus, I love working with kids. Especially coming from Steamboat, where I’ve been given so much athletically, I think it’s time to give back a little bit.”

Carter was a third-team All-American at UCLA and helped the Bruins to a national runner-up finish in 2006. After playing professionally in Puerto Rico, Carter recently returned from Spain and the Canary Islands, where she also had been playing professionally.

Playing professionally in Spain had its ups and downs, Carter said. When she got the invite to play, Carter was coming off an ankle injury that required her to wear a boot for three weeks.

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That, added to the culture shock and playing a different type of game, had Carter wondering if she made the right choice by leaving Puerto Rico.

“I was one of the big hitters at UCLA,” said Carter, who used up her eligibility at UCLA in 2006 but has several summer and fall classes to finish her degree in history/art history. “In Spain, if you’re not good at every aspect of the game, you’re not going to be on the court. I feel like playing at UCLA and in Division I, the level is different. They’re both high levels. At UCLA, the girls are bigger and stronger. It’s bump, set, kill. In Spain, the players are more experienced and so smart. I was playing with girls that were 35 years old.”

With that experience, however, Carter said her game became more rounded. She has a broader skill set and now sees the game differently. She hopes it’s something that allows her to continue to play professionally for the foreseeable future.

Until then, Carter will head back to UCLA for school. She’ll also help out as a graduate assistant and coach a club team in Santa Monica. She’s also going to enter some beach volleyball tournaments and wait for her next professional opportunity to come along.

“That’s the beauty about having an agent,” she said. “When you’re available, I’ll just tell my agent, and he’ll find a team.”

Although Carter would like to travel and play overseas for a couple more years, she said the possibility of playing beach volleyball really interests her. It’s a more difficult game but something she thinks she has the opportunity to excel at.

Either way, Carter said, no matter what the future holds, it will most certainly include volleyball.

“I hope so. I’d like for it to,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll get bored in a few years and do something else, but as long as my body holds up, I’ll be playing.”