Gators midfielder Holly King goes by a couple of different names.
When she is around her teammates, she’s Holly. When she is on the Williston Elementary School campus, she’s Ms. King.
Every Wednesday, the senior defensive midfielder teaches a fourth grade class at the Levy County elementary school.
King is majoring in elementary education and has wanted to teach for as long as she can remember.
“It’s an extremely humbling experience … to go in every day and want to change someone’s life,” she said. “It sounds [cliché], but it’s true.”
King said her fourth- and fifth-grade teachers inspired her to go into the field, adding she prefers teaching fourth- and fifth-graders.
“I like the older [kids],” she said, laughing. “I think my personality matches better with the older ones.”
Coach Becky Burleigh said having someone in the midfield who knows how to effectively instruct others is a big asset.
“Having Holly on the team is like having a coach on the field,” Burleigh said.
Although King said she doesn’t try to use her teaching skills on the field, she thinks learning how to teach might have made her a better teammate.
“Teaching is talking a lot; it’s communicating,” she said. “It’s a public speaking spot, so obviously I don’t mind communicating on the field. So maybe that does correlate.”
Her teammates, both new and old, said they have learned a lot from King.
“I’ve kind of watched Holly and how she leads the team every day in practice,” freshman Christen Westphal said.
“Off the field, she motivates us. Pre-game (and) during the game, she just gets us going. She teaches in a way that is by example. You kind of just watch what she does.’”
On Oct. 29, the Southeastern Conference named King the league’s defensive player of the year and placed her on the All-SEC first team.
Senior midfielder Erika Tymrak, who has teamed up with King her entire college career, has drawn a lot from King off the field.
“Holly is probably the most disciplined person I’ve ever met when it comes to school,” Tymrak said.
“She’s always in the library doing her homework. … If I tell her I have homework or a test, she’ll be like, ‘Let’s go to the library and study for a few hours.’ She’s definitely a good motivation there.”
However, King’s studiousness sometimes comes at a price for her teammates.
“I correct people’s grammar by accident,” King said. “It’s just a habit. ... It drives them crazy.”
While King’s teammates know all about her talent on the field, most of her students don’t know what their teacher does on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons in the fall.
“Only one girl knows that I’m on the soccer team,” she said.
“She actually had our poster and recognized me. … I just kind of smiled and said, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’”
Midfielder Holly King (10) heads a ball during UF's 3-0 victory against Florida International University on Sept. 2. King works as an elementary school teacher at Levy County elementary school every Wednesday.