Former University of North Colorado player, Taylor Stuemky, served as a volunteer assistant for the Huron Tiger volleyball team during the 2013 season. PHOTO BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN
HURON — Although her time in Huron was short, Taylor Stuemky left a lasting impression on the Huron volleyball team as it prepares to compete in the Class AA State Tournament, which begins Thursday in Mitchell.
Stuemky, who has started in her new position as academic coordinator for the football team at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, served as a volunteer assistant coach this season for the Tigers and was a valuable asset for a team looking to establish an identity in 2013.
“We’ve had a successful season, no doubt, and we know she has been a huge ingredient in the chemistry and our play,” Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen said of having Stuemky on her staff throughout the season. “This team has improved leaps and bounds throughout these last 12 weeks and we know bar none that she has had a huge impact on their learning curve. I know the kids are thankful, and I am so thankful.”
Stuemky came to Huron with her husband, Thomas, during the summer on a work-related move. The transition to Huron was somewhat frightening for the Denton, Texas, native, but her passion for volleyball went a long way in helping her to settle in.
“This has been a wonderful experience. I have never coached high school volleyball before, so I really loved working with the high school kids,” she said. “This team really means a lot to me, it provided a sense of community for me. I didn’t know anybody coming up here and it has just completely transformed my experience in Huron. I’m going to really, really, really miss them.”
During her senior year of high school, Stuemky played all three hitting positions for Liberty Christian High School en route to earning 2005 Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 5A All-State honors. She was also Liberty Christian’s Female Athlete of the Year for the 2004-05 season, participating in volleyball, softball and track.
Following a very successful high school career, Stuemky went on to play collegiate volleyball for the University of Northern Colorado at the NCAA Division I level. After seeing limited action as a freshman, she was one of four players to play in all 30 matches for the Bears as a sophomore in 2007 and led the team in blocks with 122 and block assists with 116.
As a junior, Stuemky garnered honorable mention on the All-Big Sky Conference team of UNC. She had a team-high hitting percentage of .321 among players with more than 100 attacks and finished third on the team with 558 attacks and 252 kills.
Stuemky capped her collegiate career by being named to the NSCA All-American team in addition to being a repeat honorable mention selection in the Big Sky Conference. She was named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on two occasions and was named to the all-tournament team during the 2009 North Texas Mean Green Classic.
After graduating with a undergraduate degree in sports and exercise science, Stuemky served as a volunteer assistant at the University of North Texas, before heading to Kansas State University, where she attended grad school majoring in counseling and student development. During her stint at K-State she serived as graduate assistant and academic counselor for the Wildcats’ football team.
Shortly after moving to Huron, Stuemky was able to hookup with Buddenhagen and became a welcome addition to the Huron Tiger volleyball program and the Nordby Center for Recreation, where she served as the program coordinator for the after school Prep and Play Volleyball Program for girls in fifth and sixth grade.
“She’s really touched our volleyball community, we’re going to miss her so much. We feel really lucky to have crossed paths with her,” Buddenhagen said. “I’ve learned a whole lot from her just listening to all the different Division I coaches she’s been able to learn from and it has been just a great experience all around.
“We’re just so grateful and thankful that she has been able to be part of us,” she said. “I wish she could stay for the state tournament, but she’s got to get moving with her life and her journey. We were really lucky.”
Stuemky, who left for her new position before the Tigers faced Spearfish in the Region 2AA game, also wished she could have stuck around to see Huron compete in the state tournament.
“I cried about it to Shelly when I found out and I felt really bad, but these girls are tough girls,” she said. “I know they will get through and everyone will pick up the slack in practice. Maybe coach Kelly (Hennrich) will take some swings.”
Stuemky was just what the doctor ordered for a fairly inexperienced Tigers team as it entered the 2013 season.
“When the kids get to see what we’re talking about, it is a great visual for the kids to learn from. She’s been in the trenches, so she’s been able to give little hints along with pointers that makes a difference talking to young kids,” Buddenhagen said of the advantage of having Stuemky involved with the program. “Just her presence and knowledge of volleyball from a player’s standpoint is what our kids have been really able to gain a whole lot from. She helps in practice and competes so hard, our kids see that and try to copy and emulate that as much as they can.
“With some of the players we face, like Brianna Kusler of Aberdeen Central, she can hit as hard if not way harder, so our kids are used to seeing that kind of speed come at them,” she said. “That’s been a huge advantage that we’d never see from Shelly hitting a ball.”
The season was a learning experience for Stuemky as well.
“I really enjoyed watching how the girls reacted to adversity in matches, not just when we lost, but also when we won,” she said. “We won a lot of tough matches and the girls stayed calm and stuck it out. I have learned a lot from them and I also learned a lot from Shelly, it has just been a blessing to be under her.
Stuemky compared the level of volleyball in South Dakota to what she saw while at Kansas State.
“Here you don’t have as many kids participating in Junior Olympic or club volleyball,” she said. “In Texas you have 11-year-olds trying out for traveling teams. Kansas is not as competitive as Texas, so I would compare South Dakota to Kansas.”
No matter where her career path takes her, Stuemky plans to remain activily involved with volleyball.
“I am definitely going to stay involved somehow, whether it is giving private lessons or coaching club volleyball until I can get back and hopefully have my own team again one day,” she said.
Where ever she ends up, she will we always cherish the time she was able to spend in Huron.
“I just really enjoy the people here in Huron,” Stuemky said. “I never expected it to be this great, coming in and not knowing anybody. I am really going to miss everybody.”
For the complete article see the 11-20-2013 issue.
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