By Lauren Read
Champlain Valley High School’s three-year old volleyball program has seen quite a bit of success –winning the state’s inaugural state championship in 2017 and finishing second last season – but the players are still just newcomers when it comes to the sport.
The school’s new girls volleyball coach Jeanne Nauheimer is ready for the challenge.
“Coming here for college, it was perplexing to me that it wasn’t in the high schools up here,” said Nauheimer, who came to play at Saint Michael’s College in 2005, 14 years before volleyball became a varsity sport in Vermont. “Playing the game up here, with girls who aren’t developing skills at a young age, the way that they are coached has to be different.”
So how can the Redhawks continue to build on basic volleyball skills and prepare for another state championship run?
Nauheimer, CVU’s third coach in three years, will look to help the players build both the basic building blocks and add the higher level strategy of the game.
“We have shown them what having those fundamentals can do and they are all so ready to do that,” Nauhemier said. “I think that they want to be champions this year. They are focusing on that, not looking back on past success.”
Nauheimer has focused on making sure that the team has the basic skills that she learned as a kid. “We’ve put a giant emphasis on those fundamentals,” Nauheimer said. “Everything in volleyball has to start with your serve receive…so we started working on that level.That’s not something usually you would see in high school team, but it was super effective.”
The coach seems to have found a good middle ground so far, as the team is off to a 4-0 start. In addition, the Redhawks are not leaning on their past success. They know if they want to continue their run to the finals, they are going to have to earn it.
“We have learned it’s not a given that we are going to get to the ‘ship,” said Natatie Senior, a senior on the team. “We have to earn the right be in the championship. It is not going to just be handed to us because we have had success in the past.”
Leaning on a new coach, with so much experience in volleyball, is the next step for a program that has seen a lot of turnover in the head coach position in just three years.
“You are still going to learn no matter who is teaching you,” Senior said. “We are all here because we want to play. It’s just a huge passion that we all have in common.”
With the skill level across the state rising as the sport progresses, the Redhawks know that they have to continue to improve if they want to stay on top – and adding Nauheimer will help them accomplish that goal.
“We really need to not expect anything and put in the effort that comes with earning it,” Senior said. “We have been working really hard on working together as a team because that is really the only way you can get to the ship and win games and be successful.”
Champlain Valley will face Mount Mansfield on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Jericho and then travel to Burlington on Friday for a 4:30 p.m. match.