Coming back to coach

Kim Wudi coaches the team she once played for

More stories from Sam Martinez


Photo by Sam Martinez

You can take the player out of the game, but you cannot always take the game out of the player.

Those who play for Kim Wudi said this is the case with their coach.

“She has a really competitive nature,” junior volleyball captain Katrina Raskie said. “She just wants to sub herself in sometimes.”

Wudi, head coach of the volleyball team, said coaching is not a replacement for playing, and she has to remind herself how little control she has once the match has started.

As head coach, Wudi said she influences each game primarily through preparation, so a win for her is more of a delayed gratification than when she was on the court.

“I’ve had my opportunity to be on the court,” Wudi said. “When I stand on the sidelines it’s really about supporting my players and making sure they have what it takes to be successful.”

Wudi is a UW-Eau Claire alumni who now serves as a head coach on campus. She took over head coaching duties from her former coach Lisa Herb in 2007.

Wudi was the team’s setter in the late ‘90s, and says it is both an honor and a responsibility to be coaching at her alma mater.

Associate Director of Athletics Robin Baker said that non-alums are almost outnumbered by former Blugold athletes in the athletic department. But, she says it is positive to see how many come back.

“It’s a great thing when you have an Alum that wants to come back to their place and loves it enough to want to be the leader,” Baker said.

Wudi started out college at UW-Green Bay, where she tried to walk on to the NCAA Division I program. Although there was some opportunity to play in Green Bay, she said it did not feel right, so she transferred after her freshman season.

After four years of playing for the Blugolds, she coached at the high school level and taught science classes.

“I love teaching,” Wudi said. “I feel like I teach everyday as a coach.”

And like a teacher, Wudi said her job as a coach is to inspire each of her players to be an excellent student. She believes a student athlete’s academics impact their ability to be a good volleyball player.

This year marks Wudi’s ninth season as head coach, and she just recently passed a milestone of 200 career wins. She has won three conference titles, but she said on-court success is not what brings her back each year.

Every year at Alumni weekend, Wudi said she is reminded why she does it all. That weekend she sees many old teammates and former players she coached laughing together and reminiscing on old times.

Wudi said those off the court memories are what have stuck with her through the years and inspire her to cultivate a “family” with each team that comes through.

“By coaching and creating a family atmosphere in our volleyball program, we are setting these young women up to have a life-long support system,” Wudi said.

This weekend at 3 and 7 p.m. on Friday and at noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Blugolds will play in McPhee Physical Education Center, as they will host the Sandy Schumacher invitational.