Auburn Mountainview alumnus Nicole Claudon takes over Lion volleyball program
By SHAWN SKAGER
Auburn Reporter Sports Reporter
September 5, 2012 · Updated 5:13 PM
Auburn Mountainview’s new volleyball head coach, Nicole Claudon, is no stranger to the program.
A look into the school’s trophy case reveals that Claudon helped forge the Lions’ tradition and history as a member of the team.
A plaque reads, “First Win, Sept. 20, 2005 versus Tahoma”. Under the score of the game, is Claudon’s stat line, “13 assists, five aces”.
Another plaque reads, “First State Tourney, Nov. 10-11, 2006”. Claudon was there as well.
“Being a product of this program, I have a lot of respect for the way it was built and keeping it something that the school can be proud of,” Claudon said. “I just want to continue that.”
The Auburn Mountainview coaching gig is 23-year-old Claudon’s first at the prep level.
After graduating with Auburn Mountainview’s first graduating class in 2007, Claudon went off to Washington State University.
“All my family went there,” she said. “That was the only place I wanted to go.”
Although she played club volleyball at WSU, the sport soon took a back seat to her academic career.
“You get to a point where you either decide to play at the next level or you’re a little burnt out. Maybe I was a little burnt out, so it was a needed break,” Claudon said. “But I’m excited to be back in it. It’s taught me so much, so many life skills, as well as being so much fun.”
After touring the nation doing leadership counseling at colleges for her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, Claudon came home to Auburn.
Intent on finishing school and earning her teaching certificate, Claudon was approached by Auburn Mountainview Principal Terri Herren about the vacancy left by the retired Momi Bowles.
“It came up in conversation and she said, ‘Why don’t you think about applying for this?’” Claudon said. “I just kind of laughed, but then that’s all I could think about for the next couple of days. So I just did it. I figured I had nothing to lose.
“Suddenly, I realized it was the part of my life that was missing,” Claudon said. “Growing up, it was my whole life, constantly playing and competing. I was excited to get back in the game.”
Claudon takes over a program that has set a high standard of success over the past eight years. The Lions, under Bowles, were perennial South Puget Sound League 3A contenders and starting in 2006, qualified for the state tournament every year. The team owes a large part of its success to Bowles’ emphasis on team unity and bonding.
Claudon intends to continue that emphasis.
“Being a product of this program, I appreciate a lot about Coach Bowles,” Claudon said. “All the players have made it obvious that it’s something they want to keep in the forefront of the program, just that family atmosphere. That’s something I really learned from volleyball, the teamwork side. You don’t have to like everyone, you just have to respect them. Of course, it’s much more fun if you like them.”
While Claudon is mindful of Bowles’ contributions and the foundation she set, she’s not intimidated about placing her stamp on the program.
“I wouldn’t say it’s intimidating, but it’s exciting,” Claudon said. “She left me with a lot of great tools and a great program. I’m not coming in and picking up the pieces. She’s left things in good shape.
“And I think it’s nice being able to send her emails asking a billion questions about different things because she did a lot of things really well,” Claudon said. “I’m grateful for her help.
“It’s been overwhelming, but in the best way possible,” she continued. “I’m excited and want to make sure I don’t let anyone down. I’m pretty lucky to have this opportunity at this age, with such little experience.”
Contact Auburn Reporter Sports Reporter Shawn Skager at email@example.com or (253) 833-0218, ext. 5054.