Setting up for success

How three captain’s responsibilities can differ and be the same


BUMPING UP THEIR GAME: Teammates and coaches named sophomore Katrina Raskie, senior Alexis Wong and junior Jenna Smits captains this season.

Laughter and grunts echo off the walls of McPhee Physical Education Center’s main gymnasium every volleyball practice. This is not by accident, instead by design.

When the UW-Eau Claire volleyball team practices, it’s not just a group practicing volleyball techniques, it’s sisters enjoying the shared time together. While they work on their passes and sets, they become a stronger, more tightly knit group fueled by the need to win

The captains personify the sense of community within the team. Captains are often the face of the team, and the coach tends to select them to represent the team in different situations.

However, this team is different. For these Blugolds, the team decides who the captains are. To become a captain, someone can nominate themselves, but in most cases, fellow players nominate players they think would be a good fit. Players write recommendation letters, which creates a lot of team input into who their captains will be.

Senior Alexis Wong said the selection process allows teammates to be honest and leaves room for open communication.

Experience is an important factor when considering captains, but it’s only one of the qualities players and head coach Kim Wudi looks for. Captains must lead their team through success and adversity, but Wudi said there’s much more to being a Blugold captain.

“Captains need to be able to lead by example when it comes to putting the team first,” Wudi said. “Making sure they feel whatever decisions are made were with the team’s best interest in mind.”

Wudi said it’s nice when captains are also the floor leaders or go-to players on the court, but it’s not a requirement.

Junior Jenna Smits has been with the team since her academic freshman year, and said it’s fulfilling to serve as captain on this team.

Wudi said Smits is the floor captain and her responsibility is noticeable in every match.

Smits’ role as a setter makes her commitment on every play vital toward the match’s success. Smits is expected to touch the ball every possession, and if she executes a quality set, her teammates can finish the play.

Wudi great leadership is what makes them so special.

“On our team, our three captains balance each other out,” Wudi said. “They all have different strengths so I think they work really well together to help meet the needs of our team.”

The three captains all hold different responsibilities, and Wudi as well as the other team captains said Wong provides the glue of the team.

“Lexi (Wong) helps hold the team together and tries to make sure that everybody’s involved and engaged,” Wudi said. “She reaches out across grade levels to make sure everyone is contributing.”

Wong said captaincy to her is ensuring stable relationships within the team.

“We’re a huge family, volleyball is our second family,” Wong said. “If I can help contribute to an individual’s growth, that will help the growth of the team.”

Wudi said sophomore Katrina Raskie is the emotional leader of the team.

“She holds our team to a high standard,” Wudi said. “Kat (Raskie) would be the first one to step up and tell the team we need to pick up the pace or to relax.”

Smits said Raskie is definitely the vocal leader and does a great job re-energizing the team.

Captains are an important part of a team’s structure as well as team dynamics. This team is comfortable with their captains because each pulls their weight and contribute to the team’s success.

“What we want most out of our captains is a drive for success,” Wudi said. “That’s what makes a good team great.”