LAKEWOOD RANCH — Craig Wolfe is competitive by nature.
For the past 32 years, the former collegiate and current USA Volleyball adult travel team player has been driven by success and the excitement that comes with excelling in one’s sport.
Now, the Delaware native wants to bring some of that excitement and competitive spirit to the ODA volleyball team, as the Lady Thunder’s new volleyball coach.
“I’m very excited about the program,” Wolfe says. “The administration is awesome and the new athletic staff has been awesome to work with, but the thing I’m most excited about is the players. They’re working hard and getting better. They have a real passion for the game, and that’s what makes it the most fun.”
Wolfe began playing volleyball as a sophomore at the University of Bridgeport, in Connecticut, after the school decided to start a men’s volleyball team. Wolfe had played volleyball occasionally with his church youth group, but had no real competitive volleyball experience, because there were no high school men’s volleyball teams in his hometown at the time.
Wolfe spent the next three years playing for the Purple Knights, serving as a team captain his senior season. Wolfe also served as a volunteer assistant for the women’s volleyball team.
Upon graduation, Wolfe went on to play for USA Volleyball’s adult travel teams. He continued to improve, working his way up to AA, which is the highest level for those teams. Wolfe continues to compete at the national level on a 50s team.
“I was having success and enjoying the strategy part of the game,” Wolfe says. “That kind of fueled me. I wanted to keep getting better and rise in levels. I’ll continue to (compete) until my body falls apart.”
Wolfe went on to coach high school and collegiate volleyball before assuming his new position during the offseason.
“I enjoy watching my players get it; and I enjoy watching them and giving them the opportunities to be successful players and develop the love for the game that I have,” says Wolfe.
The Lady Thunder, who haven’t reached the postseason since 2007, opened their regular season at home Aug. 28 versus Northside Christian after a pair of losses in the Sarasota Preseason Classic volleyball tournament this past week.
This year’s team features six seniors, who will provide experience and a great deal of leadership on the court, a junior and three sophomores.
“At the varsity level, they haven’t had as much success as they would’ve liked,” Wolfe says. “I’m pleased with where we are. I’m very happy with where the girls have come in such a short period of time.
“I’m going to do all I can to make this a great season for the players and for the team,” Wolfe says. “My goal is to continue to have them get better, enjoy the game more and learn how to compete. I’m confident we will be able to compete.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].