Q&A column: Jessica Trudeau returns to CU

Castleton University’s volleyball team is welcoming a new head coach in the form of Castleton Alum Jessica Trudeau, who spent the past two seasons playing for the team she is now coaching. Trudeau sat down Thursday to share her unique story of becoming the next Spartan volleyball Head Coach.

Q. Would you mind walking me through the timeline and journey that brought you here?

A. After graduating high school, I went to SUNY Adirondack. I took a gym class there, and Xiao Li, the coach at the time for Suny Adirondack, ran the gym class and he said ‘hey, you should play for me,’ so I did. I played 2015-16 at SUNY, and I was an assistant coach there from 2017-19, then I transferred to Castleton to finish my Phys. Ed. degree. I contacted Lindsay Bynon, and said ‘hey, I’m an old lady, but I’d love to continue playing, and get to know you and the program.’ Playing in your mid-to-late 20’s is so difficult compared to when you’re 19 or 20, but I did it. I started coaching Lyndsay’s family’s volleyball club, and I found out she was leaving and applying elsewhere and I said ‘ya know what? I’ve got nothing to lose,’ so I applied and here I am. Xiao is the reason I’m here, because if he hadn’t picked me out of that gym class, I don’t know what I’d be doing

Q. So you’re coaching some of the players that you were playing with last year, what’s that like?

A. I did the same thing at SUNY, only I was the assistant coach, and it’s a little different being the head coach, but so far I’ve found that I relate to them very well, and I understand everything they’re going through, being in their position last year. The lines of communication are there, they know they can come in and talk to me. They already know me, which is awesome. We just respect each other, and I’m lucky I get to coach them.

Q. How has that bond that was formed with them helped you transition to being the head coach?

A. Well, I already knew their strengths and weaknesses, which is very helpful from a coaching standpoint, like catering plays to them. Coming in I had a game plan because I knew most of them and I knew what we could do, which is very helpful.

Q. Is there an aspect of the head coaching job that you weren’t really as prepared for?

A. I know it’s only a club, but that head coaching experience was really good preparation for this. The thing that’s different here is now I have an assistant coach and a graduate assistant, and having that help is awesome, but sometimes I’m like ‘hmm, what do I want them to do?’ Because I’m kinda used to doing it all, so it’s really useful to have them, and we played at SUNY together, so we’ve known each other for about seven years now.

Q. When you were playing volleyball here, was there any point where you saw yourself becoming the head coach here? Or was this a spontaneous opportunity that you ran with?

A. It was a thought in terms of the long-term, but I had no idea Lyndsay was going to leave. I found out at a club practice one day and I knew I was gonna have my bachelor’s. I thought long-term it was gonna be a great opportunity, because I’m from sort of close by, so I had it in the back of my mind when I came here, but I didn’t think it would happen this soon, but I’m happy it did.

Q. I’ve noticed that a lot of faculty, staff, and coaches here also went to school here, so I want to know what made you want to come back?

A. Having such a supportive environment here, especially in athletics. Being in Phys. Ed., I was in this building everyday for my classes so I knew everybody, I was comfortable, and people make you feel very welcome here. I had some of the best professors. I spent a semester at New Paltz, and I went to SUNY Adirondack, and they were great, but the connection you make here is unrivaled.

Q. What were some of your standout memories from playing volleyball here?

A. In Spring of 2021, we had a team of I think eight people, and it was kind of a thrown together team, we didn’t have a lot of people, and not a lot of people were playing their own positions. We went to Eastern Connecticut for a Spring-ball game, and we took a set from them which had never happened previously, and the fact that we did it with this thrown together team was really cool.

Q. As a student athlete, what did you do with your very little free-time?

A. With Castleton I spent a lot of time driving back-and-forth, I listened to a lot of coaching podcasts. I always liked to get homework done and out of the way so I could live my best life. During COVID I spent a lot of time hiking. I spent a lot of time with my dog. During the off-season at SUNY, I was playing volleyball with my friends five nights a week with my friends, and it was awesome before COVID came and ruined everything. I wish I could go back to those times. Now I can hardly keep up with them. I’m like an old lady.

Q. Now that you’re coaching, what does your free-time currently look like?

A. Recruiting. Really just getting people in here that are going to continue growing the program. It’s actually kinda fun for me. I don’t think of it as a chore. I get really excited when I get an email back from a recruit, I’m like ‘oh yes! This is great!” None of this really feels like work, which is exactly what you want in life. Sometimes I’ll watch Game of Thrones. The new House of the Dragon is good so far. I think they learned after season eight and did this one well.

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