Prep Stars in College: Success at end of adverse path for King
College volleyball turned out to be Aubrey King’s inevitable destination.
No amount of terrain on the path stopped her from reaching the end result. Now, the Malad graduate is not only competing for Eastern Arizona College, she is making a difference for the team.
King has started for the majority of her first two years with the Gila Monsters. This season, the right-side hitter is third in kills per set (2.1) and fourth in blocks and assists per game, with .61 and .31, respectively.
Stepping on the floor was a difficult enough proposition for her as a high school upperclassman. Not because she wasn’t talented. King tore her ACL in her left knee before her junior year. After that injury healed, she tore her ACL in her right knee prior to her final prep season.
“All that hope and excitement to come back and to get back to where I was before was all shattered,” said King, whose team won its first state title in 26 years without her.
The sophomore said she initially considered giving up the sport, but that thought quickly disintegrated. She went through a rigid physical therapy program her senior year to put herself in position to compete after high school.
“I wanted to play college volleyball and ultimately that never changed,” King said. “The dream of playing volleyball never really died.”
King pondered being a team manager of a college team, if that was the lone entry point. She made it onto a college roster because of good fortune. EAC was in desperate need of a player at the last minute. Gila Monsters head coach Shari Kay was aware of King because her sister played for EAC.
A full-ride scholarship ended up being offered to the girl who had logged about a month on the volleyball court in the last two years, all for a club team. Going from 2A Idaho prep volleyball to the collegiate level would’ve been substantial enough.
King said she was drained a half-hour into her first practice with the NJCAA Division I team after not playing volleyball.
“When you’re playing, you’re supposed to be able to see the court and to be aware of everything that was going on. And rather than focusing on that, I was focusing on, like, trying to be able to jump.” King said. “Really, it just came down to working hard and putting in extra time and having the faith in myself that I would be able to do it.”
Her trajectory must have turned steeply upward because she earned starts immediately. This season, King is making contributions for a team that has found success. The Gila Monsters are 19-8 and in fourth place in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference at 9-5. So when asked what the high point of her college career has been, she said now because of the potential for the team to accomplish great things.
When adversity strikes – like it always does in pivotal moments of the season – EAC will have a player on its side who knows how to stay on course no matter the obstacles in her way.
“You just have to persevere through anything that life gives you,” King said. “If you want something bad enough, then go get it.”