DECATUR — The famous coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
No one knows this to be as true as those who coach. The Christiansen family, formerly of Tiskilwa and now of Mark have had a strong multi-generational approach towards coaching. Daughter Karen Christiansen Wooden of Decatur is a 1983 graduate of Tiskilwa High School. John Garvin was her first coach. She was named All-Conference and played as an outside hitter for the Lady Indians.
She followed her high school career with a two year stint at Illinois Valley Community College. She then realized she had to refocus her energies in a different direction.
Wooden then started her family. As her father did before her, she found herself wanting to coach her kids, David and Matthew Christiansen and Jordan Wooden. Volleyball seemed to be her niche.
“I started coaching when my daughter was 4 and have pretty much been coaching ever since,” she said.
Wooden then followed daughter Jordan to Holy Family School in Decatur and started the volleyball program there. She was given approval as long as she not only coached, but had to be the athletic director and obtain her referee license.
“I had to coach and ref in many games at the time,” Wooden said.
Wooden worked to build strong volleyball skills in her student/athletes who then went on to attend St. Teresa Catholic High School in Decatur. Wooden moved to the assistant coach position under head coach Jay McAtee who took the Bulldog program to the next level.
She became head coach on her own during the 2012-13 school year. In the past two seasons she has achieved some pretty impressive statistics.
“In my two years there, I was voted coach of the year for our surrounding area and conference,” she said. “The award is voted on by area sports media, athletic directors and coaches.”
Her two years of teams have accumulated at 64-14 win/loss record. The Lady Bulldogs have advanced to the Super Sectional level of the IHSA Class 2A volleyball competition. Unfortunately their luck of the draw has not been good. The last two years has brought Deer Creek-Mackinaw to the Bulldogs’ doorstep, and they have not gotten passed them.
“If it happens again next year, we are hoping that the third time will be a charm,” she said.
Wooden points out that coaching runs in the family, and she is quite happy to see daughter Jordan continue as a third generation coach. Jordan is currently attending Parkland College and playing volleyball and has recently committed to Robert Morris University where she will be studying to get her culinary arts degree.
“She too has already been coaching club volleyball,” Wooden said. “It’s in the genes, it has gone from granddad to me to her now.”
Wooden is in fact planning on a volleyball dynasty with son David Christianson’s identical twin granddaughters, Chloe and Miley.
“They both got volleyballs from grandma when they were born so they don’t stand a chance of not playing,” she said. “I also have another three month old granddaughter who has a volleyball too. Now we have half of a starting team.”