Tomko, who closed out his four-year career as the program’s third all-time scorer, has signed a one-year contract with the Bakken Bears professional team in Aarhus (pronounced Are-hoose), Denmark. It’s a dream come true for the Charlotte native who tormented Colonial Athletic Association opponents with his deft ball handling skills and scoring ability to the tune of 1,702 points and 481 assists from 2008-11.
“I’ve never been out of the country, so it’s pretty exciting,” said Tomko, who plans to immerse himself into the Danish culture. “English is their second language, so it’s going to be interesting. I’m looking at it as a learning experience.”
Tomko completed his eligibility with Seahawks in March of 2011 and served as a student assistant coach last season. The mighty mite spent a lot of time on the court, hoping to land a professional contract. He got the call – and the opportunity of a lifetime – from his German-based agent two weeks ago.
“It was a good experience last year working with the team, but it hurt going to the games and not playing. It’s tough being on the sidelines. That definitely gave me more motivation.”
“I have a nine-month contract that runs from September into May,” said Tomko, who has leaned on former Seahawk standouts Brett Blizzard, John Goldsberry and T.J. Carter for advice. “I’ve talked with Brett, John, and T.J. and they all said it will be a different game than what I’m used to.”
The Bears were established in 1962 and have won the Danish League championship 11 times, including the last two seasons. Tomko will make his professional debut during a preseason tournament in Germany.
Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark behind Copehagen and has an area population of 1.2 million. Like Wilmington, it has a port and is steeped in history, with archaeological findings dating back some 1,300 years to Viking times. Aarhus is older than 770 AD, making it the oldest big city in Scandinavia.
Tomko leaves his home country with many fond memories, especially three games during his career with the Seahawks. His three favorites are UNCW’s 75-73 buzzer-beating victory at George Mason on Feb. 16, 2008, the come-from-behind 95-93 overtime victory at Towson on Feb. 12, 2011, and UNCW’s 108-101 sudden death victory against Appalachian State in the season opener on Nov. 14, 2008.
“The Appalachian State game was probably the best,” he said with a smile. “We were down by 16 points and the crowd stayed in it. It was probably the loudest I ever heard it in Trask. I got chills every time we made a shot and came back. I think the students rushed the court after the game.”
Beyond this year’s contract, Tomko isn’t sure what the future holds. He just wants to make the most of this chance to play the sport he loves. “I just want to win the championship and get another contract. Just to build my name up and hope to play again next season.”