A Look Inside: UWEC Women’s Volleyball Camp

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 8:09 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Throughout the month of July, the reigning NCAA Division 3 national champion UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball team is holding their summer camps. A chance for the next generation to learn the skills they’ll need to be successful. The place where championship dreams are born.

“It’s nice to know that they look up to us as role models. We can definitely teach them the game of volleyball that we love and kind of spread that love for them. And with the community, we just had great support from them during the season especially during our run to the championship. And just to be able to give back and meet everybody in the community is just really great,” says Blugolds junior Charlie Nelson.

For UW-Eau Claire’s Charlie Nelson and Maren Saunders, being part of the Blugold volleyball programs first-ever NCAA title last November is something they’ll cherish the rest of our lives. This summer, the players are getting the opportunity for a role-reversal, coaching kids at camp. Blugolds head coach Kim Wudi says it’s a valuable experience for her players.

“We work a lot on leadership and we want to develop leaders in our players but for them to be able to coach and help each kid really develop their own skills, it’s that pay it forward. Someone did that for them back in the day so for them to pay it forward is really important,” says Wudi.

Getting the chance to teach and be a role model for the campers is no doubt a rewarding experience for both Saunders and Nelson. Watching the kids reaction when the Blugolds national championship trophy was brought out for them to see and touch? Priceless!

“It was honestly one of the coolest experiences, we sat down for lunch and talked about how it was so cool because it’s not just our trophy, it’s the communities trophy. Being able to see all those kids gather around the trophy and even little brothers, little sisters that are at our camps, just being able to see the trophy, touch the trophy and experience it was just super cool,” says Blugolds senior Maren Saunders.

“They come to our games with their parents and they say hi to me pre-game and stuff, yeah it’s just great to see them here, some of their goals are definitely to play collegiate volleyball so if we can give them a positive relationship and good role models as coaches and players, then we did our jobs pretty good,” adds Nelson.

“They come to our camps, they help our players learn how the be leaders, even just from a fundraising standpoint. For us to be able to put these camps on and have then the resources to be able to do what we do in terms of training is just huge. Again, our players develop so much confidence by being coaches here so that helps on the court and that translates over when we get a chance to play in the fall,” explains Wudi.

Saunders says she hopes she can have the type of positive impact on the kids at camp this summer that Coach Wudi has had during her time as a Blugold.

“Having Kim as a role model, looking up to her, having her as a coach has been life-changing for me. I respect her and everything she does so it’s been really cool to hopefully influence these little kids.”

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