Acing it in Sweden: Crystal Burk’s new volleyball career abroad


Natalie Dean, Reporter

Former outside hitter for the Jackrabbit volleyball team and a South Dakota State University 2022 December graduate, Crystal Burk has signed on to play professional volleyball with the Gislaved Volleyball Club in Gislaved, Sweden. 

“When I fell in love with playing the game, it was hard to see that end once college was over,” Burke said. “It was my goal to play professionally.”

Burk played college volleyball for five years, growing as an individual and as a player. With multiple different accomplishments, including being ranked third nationally in total kills, as well as being an incredible leader and enforcer on the SDSU team, it was no surprise to head volleyball coach Dan Georgalas that Burk would go far.

“This contract in Sweden is a good start for her,” Georgalas said. “Who knows what contracts and countries will be coming her way at the start of the next international season, which will be this fall.”

Once her time at SDSU came to an end, Burk got in touch with the Bring It USA agency that helped her get signed on to play with a professional club. The same agency that assistant volleyball coach, Allison Mayfield worked with during her time playing professionally.

“That was the agency I worked with my entire career,” Mayfield said. “There are other agencies out there but just having that personal relationship would be helpful.”

Ever since she began coaching at SDSU in February 2022, Mayfield knew that Burk was interested in playing professionally once she left college. Knowing that Burk had the potential to go far in professional athletics, Mayfield helped Burk put together a highlightsvideo to send to the agency. Then the agency passes it on to various clubs who are looking for players. Finally, the coaches and agency communicate back and forth on offers for that player. 

Club contracts typically last one year from September to April, and, depending on the club, will include salary, travel expenses and paid housing. Clubs can re-sign a player afterwards for one or even two more years. Burk joined halfway through the regular season, which for her will last from January to April with the Sweden club.

 It is very common for players to travel to different countries, since there are more opportunities to play volleyball outside the U.S. than there are staying at home. 

Burk always knew she wanted to travel and go see the world outside of the United States. When it came time to consider that she would be living in a different country, it wasn’t hard to make that decision because she was eager to see new places. In her words: “why not do it while doing something I love, which is playing volleyball.”   

Burk said living in Sweden is not like it is when living in the U.S., but it is a good change. She appreciates how one can walk anywhere, and if you need to drive somewhere the cars, are smaller but more efficient.

 “It’s been really fun so far,” Burk said. “All the girls are nice and all the coaches are helpful. I think this is a great place for me to start out as a professional volleyball player.” 

Professional athletics is a goal for many college athletes. Georgalas said college athletics doesn’t have to be “a means to an end,” and athletes can know that there are more athletic opportunities after college, just like Burk is pursuing. 

Burk has learned during her time at SDSU to be thankful for where she is at and how far she has come. She advises college athletes hoping to play professionally to play for themself and others while also appreciating the game.

“Don’t let those days when you feel at your lowest affect what’s going to happen in your future,” Burk said. “Keep working through the highs and lows because it definitely pays off in the end.”