Locals playing pro ball

It is always interesting to follow local volleyball players after their high school and collegiate careers are completed.

I have been so fortunate to have had a number of former players who found professional volleyball in their post-collegiate years. What a great way to see the world, play the game that you love, and even make some money.

Kelly Wing, who was a two-time All American at UC Irvine, has played professionally since her graduation. Her travels have included Germany, Croatia, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. She recently left to play in Azerbaijan (a country in the Middle East that is near the Caspian Sea). She plays on the same team as Tayyiba Haneef, a 6-foot-6 outside hitter who was voted the most outstanding player in the world when she played for the USA team two years ago.

Needless to say, Kelly is enjoying volleyball at this high level (although she is not fond of the food).

After finishing her career at UCI, Hawaiian-born Amanda Vazquez has played every season in Puerto Rico. I was lucky to help in her early negotiations which allowed Amanda to leave school early to play and still return to UCI to attain her degree.

In Puerto Rico, each team is allowed only two non-Puerto Ricans per team. Since Amanda's father is Puerto Rican, Amanda is not one of the two which increases her value in the league. She plays for Indias de Mayaquez.

More former Anteaters are enjoying their experience in Switzerland.

Kristin Kelley, who had played one year in Germany joined Devon Sutherland on the team in Franches Montagnes. The rules in Switzerland have no limit on players affiliation, so their team has seven Americans.

Kristin is playing opposite and Devon is an exciting libero for the Division I pro team. I feel so fortunate to get their reports on their games and their travels. They are definitely enjoying Europe.

Lauren Kellerman, after her senior season as a four-time All Big West Conference player, finished her last two quarters in Italy. She has now returned to Italy to play professionally. She plays in Salerno, Italy, as an outside hitter.

After completing her career at UCI as second in career assists, Taryn Robertson received a professional contract from a team in Germany. She is playing in Augsberg. Most the girls take some classes in language which are required by their teams. Again, I have enjoyed reading about Taryn's tales in Germany.

Ashlie Hain, who holds the career assists record at UCI, played in Germany and Croatia with Kelly Wing. They had been college roommates and continued as roommates in their pro travels (that is a long time together). Ashlie currently is a physical education instructor and head volleyball coach at American River College in Sacramento where her team is 13-4.

Finally, USA Olympian Kevin Hansen is playing for the second year in Russia. After starring at Corona del Mar High and Stanford, Kevin set for our 2008 Olympic champions. He signed a lucrative contract to play in Russia where he has found Russian life very interesting. He and his wife, Sarah, realize how great it is to be home in Costa Mesa.

With the economy the way that it is, what better way to enjoy these early post-college years.

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