Men’s club volleyball team returns home as National champions

Blugolds return home from national competition in Phoenix, AZ with gold

Claire Schoenemann

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UW-Eau Claire men’s club volleyball team poses at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ following the national championship victory.

After being ranked first in the NCVF Division II men’s club volleyball competition, the UW-Eau Claire men’s club volleyball team returned home from the Arizona competition as national champions

Haydn Thon, a fourth-year social studies teaching student and the club volleyball president, said that having the large number of athletes this year, regular practices and building a community for the team has really elevated their comfort on the court.

Thon said that as the only team in Wisconsin with three competitive teams, being able to play at a high level against teams like UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh really brought the team to the next step.

“I think we really got used to kind of rising up to the occasion, so when it came time to do that in national championships, you know kind of on the big stage, I think we were really confident that we knew how to do that and could do that again,” Thon said. 

Thon said that a unique aspect of club sport competition is that there are no coaches, and that the team is led by student leaders who double as athletes. Aside from club president Thon, fourth-year accounting student Kyle Loose doubled as one of the team captains. 

Loose said that the inter-competitive aspect that the A, B and C teams brought to the table helped push the team for this level of success later on in the season.

“Having three teams that were competitive, everyone getting along, coming to practice and trying their best really boosted our morality so we can play better and be competitive against those good teams,” Loose said. 

The men’s team finished the season off with a final record of 30-6 after earning the title of national champions. The B team level of the club competition also had success this season, finishing as the WVC DII champions.

Thon said that regardless of A, B or C team athletes, he watched every team and athlete grow through their on-court attitude and by learning to play with each other. 

 A team athlete and third-year neuroscience student Connor Clowers said that every time a team was on the court, they were looking out for each other and cheering each other on. 

“I would say the number one thing that stands out to me is that every single time we were on the court together, for any match, there was always the same kind of support,” Clowers said.

Thon said that as the only school in Wisconsin with a C team, the club traditionally does not make cuts. This is a testament to everyone involved who continues to show up, put in time and effort and to grow as a club.

“We try to be that club that takes in everyone, and you know helps everyone grow even if they’re not on a team right away, they come in and they just want to get better or just want to hang out with our group of guys,” Thon said. 

Although the season has come to a conclusion, the men’s club volleyball team plans to hold their annual block party sand tournament some time this spring. 

If you are interested in getting involved, check out the team’s Instagram page or contact Hayden Thon for more information.

Schoenemann can be reached at [email protected].