COE Outstanding Female Leader is all-star on Gator soccer team, too


Elementary education senior Holly King knows how to be a leader, whether it’s for a classroom of elementary school students or a team of Gator soccer players.

Next month, she will receive UF’s Outstanding Female Leader award during her undergraduate graduation. King is part of the five-year elementary education ProTeach program and played as senior defensive midfielder for the university’s women’s soccer team, earning All-Southeastern Conference first-team and defensive player of the year honors.

“I was very surprised and feel very humbled to have received this prestigious award,” King said. “Our elite student body is filled with leaders and to be selected to represent them is a great honor.” 

During her studies, King demonstrated these leadership qualities by creating fun and engaging lesson plans and adapting if they failed, which presented similar challenges to those she faced as captain of the soccer team. 

“What I learned on the field translated into the classroom as a teacher when getting to know my students and their different levels of learning,” King said. 

Shane M. Lardinois

Photo by Shane M. Lardinois.

Her professors, too, have seen her growth and commitment in her academic work. For example, King tutored a struggling reader and was responsible for planning daily tutoring sessions with him. After six weeks, King helped the student gain eight reading levels.

“Holly was very dedicated, yet humble,” said elementary education professor Caitlin Gallingane, who had King for two of her reading courses. “She worked hard to fit together both her academic career and her soccer career and still meet the high expectations of her instructors, coaches, and peers. She will be a wonderful professional teacher and role model for her students.” 

King was also a strong leader on the soccer field. She was selected to the UF women’s soccer team’s leadership committee in her freshman year, on which she served for three years. By her senior year, King was named team captain. As captain, she led the team to the SEC Championship and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. 

“I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches and teachers in the nation, which afforded me the opportunity to develop as a leader,” she said. “As a captain on our women’s soccer team, I adapted and adjusted to my teammates’ personalities in order to communicate appropriately.” 

Soccer coach Becky Burleigh told the Independent Florida Alligator that King’s leadership is a big asset to the team. 

“Having Holly on the team is like having a coach on the field,” Burleigh said. 

Read the rest of the Alligator’s profile about King and her leadership on and off the field here.

Photo by Shane M. Lardinois.

Photo by Shane M. Lardinois.