Amber Sutherland’s professional quest |

Amber Sutherland’s professional quest

Jeff CaspersenPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo courtesy of University of Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Amber Sutherland isn’t ready to stop playing volleyball. Not yet.The Glenwood Springs High School volleyball coach, a Demon alum and former Division I player at the University of Colorado, is eyeing Europe as a launching ground for a professional career.Sutherland, a 2004 Glenwood graduate, is latching on with Bring It Promotions, a professional volleyball agency that organizes “exposure tours” abroad. Arriving in Krakow, Poland, on Jan. 7 and leaving from Venice, Italy, on Jan. 17, Sutherland and fellow players with designs on a pro career will flaunt their skills in a series of showcase matches.”They help you find a team overseas,” Sutherland said. “They connect you with teams over there. You go on the tour to showcase your skills. Teams – they call them clubs over there – watch you and, hopefully, you get picked up and sign a contract.”And, if that means dropping the tour midway through to begin fulfilling that contract, then that’s what Sutherland will do.”I’ve actually had some friends go and get picked up within tours,” she said. “If you get picked up, you automatically leave the tour and go with that team. If you don’t get picked up, you head back to the states and still try to find a team for you.”With well-established professional leagues, Europe is one of two ways Sutherland can extend her playing career.”To keep playing, I either have to do this or do beach volleyball,” she relayed. “I’m just excited for everything. I’ve heard a lot of good things.”

Sutherland’s been busy working herself into shape for her journey, training multiple times a week with John Norton at Accelerate Human Performance in Glenwood Springs. “I’ve been about three days a week, every week,” she said. “It’s different every time – plyometrics, conditioning, cardiovascular. He’s supportive and pushes me hard, day in and day out.”Sutherland, who had surgery over the summer to clean up an assortment of foot ailments, has also done plenty of solo training.She recently tested her court skills over in Denver.”It was more of an adult scrimmage-type league,” Sutherland said. “The team needed some players. I played with one of my old teammates from CU.”The foot held up well.”I was jumping as high as I used to, but pain free,” said Sutherland, who finished with more than 1,000 kills as a Buffalo.

Thanks to a rush of community support, raising the money to fund the trip has progressed smoothly.From her high school players collectively chipping in $250 of their own money to Norton donating workout sessions, the Glenwood community is clearly behind Sutherland.The generosity certainly extends beyond Norton and Sutherland’s players. A number of local businesses and individuals have lent a helping hand in one form or another.”The community has been more supportive than I ever imagined,” she said. “It’s definitely a blessing to know that your community is right behind you and has your back. It’s very uplifting.”

If Sutherland were to catch on abroad, her coaching career might come to an end. Temporarily, anyway.Regardless, players are rooting for their coach’s success.”They’re really excited for me,” said Sutherland, who guided the Demons to a 14-8 record this past fall. “Obviously, a lot of them are scared I won’t come back next year. But they understand that playing this sport, being a part of it at a professional level, means a lot to me. They’re supportive of me.”

While nothing like the millions of dollars thrown around in men’s professional sports, Sutherland could make a decent living playing volleyball. “I’ve heard anything from $1,200 up to $5,000 for a month,” Sutherland said. But the ex-Demon isn’t seeking a big payday. She just wants to keep playing volleyball.”I want to do it for playing volleyball, going to a different country, being able to travel and compete,” Sutherland said. “You don’t make millions of dollars like football players. That’s not why I’m doing it. I love the sport. I love the competition.”

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