Professional DeGeest comes to Suamico
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – From small-town Spencer, Iowa, to playing professional volleyball in Europe, Krista DeGeest recently found her way to the Green Bay area for the Howard-Suamico Inferno Volleyball camp.
The three-day session was held at Bay Harbor Elementary School in Suamico July 23-25.
An honorable-mention all-American and an all-conference player every year while at Northern Iowa University (NIU), the 28-year-old DeGeest will be heading back to Germany soon for another year as a professional on the courts.
“After playing at NIU for five years, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” said DeGeest during a break at the camp. “A coach from Sweden contacted me (in 2012) and asked me if I wanted to play professionally, so I did that for a year there, and then spent three years playing in Romania. Last year I played in Germany as well, but this year I’ll be on a different team.”
DeGeest said she fell in love with living overseas. The culture shock was difficult to deal with at first, but now she cherishes it.
“I obviously see the inside of a lot of gyms during the season, but after that’s done, I get to travel around and see so much,” said DeGeest, who was a team captain during her junior and senior seasons at NIU. “It’s different than just visiting a country – I’m immersed in the culture. If you want to play volleyball after college, many times you have to travel overseas to play unless you play sand (volleyball).”
DeGeest, who knows the Romanian language pretty well and a little bit of Swedish and German, travels around during the summer doing camps like the one she helped run for Inferno.
“The girls I have worked with have such great work ethics and they’ve learned a lot,” she said. “They take anything you say and apply it – they are a coaches dream.”
Kelly Clement is one of four mothers that started Inferno four years ago, with the club being built on the premise that it would get Bay Port kids to play together.
“It used to be a closed, regional club, which means we only accepted athletes from Howard-Suamico,” Clement said. “We eventually opened it up to other areas, and last year we had players from Oconto, Pulaski and Green Bay; but the majority still come from Howard-Suamico (about 80-90 percent). It’s been a very positive change – in fact, it’s exploding! We’ve gone from one team when we started, all the way up to 6.5 this past season. We’re hoping for similar numbers – or even more – next year.”
Clement noted that having someone of the caliber of DeGeest – who drove seven hours from Iowa to get to the camp – was very helpful.
“It was so exciting to have someone like Krista here,” said Clement, who along with Sally Riner are directors of the club. “It’s nice for the girls to see the hard work and dedication of a player like her. She’s seen a good chunk of Europe because she’s put in the work.”
This past season, Inferno had approximately 17 people helping out with coaching the teams and running the club. Each team – starting as young as sixth graders – had a head coach and an assistant coach.
According to Clement, the Fox Valley area has had club volleyball for close to 20 years, but it’s relatively new in this area.
“We don’t do a lot of travel with overnight trips, so our club isn’t as expensive as other clubs,” Clement said. “Even if we go to Milwaukee for a tournament, we don’t have to stay overnight. I purposely do it that way to keep costs down.”
For more information on the club, find “Howard Suamico Inferno Volleyball” on Facebook.