Forward, National Women’s Soccer League Club OL Reign
By Marguerite Cleveland
Photo by Samantha Elise Tillman
Tziarra “Zee” King is a professional soccer player who plays forward for the OL Reign. She grew up in Sicklerville, New Jersey, in a soccer home with two older brothers who are former collegiate soccer players. She was a scholar athlete in high school, earning school Honor Roll all four years, and a member of the National Honor Society. Zee excelled in soccer at the high school level and set a record at Winslow High School as the all-time leading scorer (both girls and boys) with 105 career goals and 36 assists. In her senior year she led the state of New Jersey by scoring 51 goals and 14 assists, an impressive feat. She was twice selected for the United States Youth Futsal National Team and competed internationally.
Zee attended North Carolina State University, where she excelled at both academics and soccer. Head coach Tim Santoro described her as “a complete player who is extremely gifted technically and is off the charts athletically. She’s a very competitive and driven person who will add a lot to the team makeup. Her dribbling, vision and passing, as well as ability to score goals from the midfield, will inject a lot into our attack.” That drive led Zee to play in 88 games during her college career. She racked up numerous awards including Scholar-Athlete of the Year—the first Atlantic Coast Conference women’s soccer player awarded this honor.
Her professional career began in 2020, when she was the eighth overall pick in the National Women’s Soccer League draft selected by the Utah Royals. She played in both the Challenge Cup and the Fall Series her rookie year for a total of 406 minutes and earning two goals. Zee began her career with the OL Reign when she was traded in January 2021. She played in all four matches of the 2021 Challenge Cup, starting in two and scoring one goal and one assist. Her future with the OL Reign looks bright.
Q. Your brothers both played soccer. What was it like growing up in a soccer family?
A. Growing up with two soccer-playing older brothers, Ritchie and Riquan, was competitive and hectic. I remember we used to have so much fun making up our own little games and playing in the living room. We may or may not have broken a few windows in the process. They pushed me to be better and work harder. I always told them I was going to be better than them. They've finally come to terms with that statement. I play for them every single day. They've had such an influence on my life and my soccer career. I just want them to be proud of the player and woman I've become.
Q. As a professional athlete you have an opportunity to use your platform for good. What are the causes or nonprofits that are dear to your heart?
A. I knew that if I ever got the opportunity to have a platform, I would be authentic to who I am and the things I care about. I'm so fortunate to be in the position that I'm in, and because of that, it's so important for me to use this platform for positive change. I'm all for anything that benefits the greater good of society. I really feel like we can all thrive and succeed without the need for a group of the population to suffer or be oppressed. I'm particularly passionate about racial equality, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights, just to name a few.
Q. Moving to the Pacific Northwest can be quite an adjustment. What do you like about your new home?
A. Honestly, I was worried that it was going to be a harsh transition for me. The sun is my best friend, so the thought of rain all the time made me nervous. Thankfully, it really has been a smooth transition. I absolutely love it here. The weather has been nicer than I anticipated, and I've heard the summers are even better. I think my favorite part is how naturally scenic and beautiful the area is. I'm truly so happy and thankful to be here.
Q. The OL Reign has an illustrious roster of great soccer players. Are there any that you looked up to as a role model growing up?
A. We have an absolute bomb squad. My teammates are fantastic players, but even better people. I cannot emphasize that enough. Coming into a new environment is scary, but I genuinely could not have been more fortunate than to be welcomed by this group. To be completely honest, I wasn't very well-versed on soccer players when I was growing up. I think as I got older, I of course looked up to Megan Rapinoe, as so many people do. She's like a real-life superhero on and off the field. But I will say, all the veterans on our team are so knowledgeable, experienced and talented. I may not have known about them as much as I should have growing up, but I'll tell you right now: I want to be like every single one of them when I grow up. True role models and great humans.