Coming into her second season as head coach for the Castleton women’s volleyball team, Jessica Trudeau is building the program up. With a new underclassmen presence along with a strong veteran presence, Trudeau is excited for the future of the team.
Q. Coming out of the 2022 season, do you believe the team is trending in the right direction?
A. Yeah, I think this year, compared to last year, I was given the opportunity to have a full new recruiting class. We’ve had eight freshmen come in so there’s been lots of new blood on the team. Being able to recruit my own kids was a big piece of us being successful in the future, although I do love our returns because they are awesome.
Q. What’s the expectation for the team coming into this season?
A. My biggest focus was creating a culture that was family orientated but competitive at the same time. Working with our upperclassmen on being good teammates while keeping a competitive edge. I’d just like to create an environment where you’re allowed to be yourself. Because you can have all the skills in the world, but if you’re not a good person then that makes things difficult for the team. Making sure we had good people on the team was super important to me. Last season, with our 5-20 record, we got really close to our first ever conference win. So, Castleton has never had an in-season win against an LEC team so that’s a big goal for us this season. With the talent we brought in and the returners we have coming back I think it’s a strong possibility and that’s a good goal for our team.
Q. Coming off an impressive 2022 season, what can you expect from Hailey Martinovich this season?
A. Hailey is the captain of the team this year so I’m hoping she can nurture the freshman by leading by example. Both on and off the court, she sets a good example. Skill-wise in games, I’m looking for her to continue being our go-to player on offense. She actually won offensive player of the week this week for the LEC. She’s an outside hitter for us and I’m super proud of the work she’s been doing for us.
Q. With a large incoming freshman group this season, has anyone in particular stood out most in terms of potential?
A. All the freshmen bring a lot of energy, which is awesome. In terms of one freshman, Jocelyn Ray has proven to be a great offensive weapon in our first three games. She was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Vermont for volleyball so we’re super happy to have her join us. Off the court, Jocelyn is a funny, easy person to talk to, loves volleyball so that’s really awesome. But on the court, she’s really aggressive, I think as she continues her time here, she’ll continue to get better. She’s already brought a lot of skills to the table so quickening up offense throughout her years here will allow people to see her do good things here.
Q. Going into every practice and every game, what’s the team’s overall focus?
A. Mental toughness. Volleyball is such a unique sport because it’s not a continuous sport. A mistake happens and you have to be able to regroup yourself for the next moment in the game. So having that mental toughness in our sport is super important.
Q. What’s been the key to the team’s hot start this season?
A. Energy. We’re definitely a lot more energetic than last year, plus the team gets along really well. But scrimmaging Middlebury was really helpful for our first three games. Seeing that high level play was really helpful. We did some really good things in the Middlebury scrimmage. We stuck with them for a couple sets but it was also a higher level competition than most of our girls were used to seeing. So, I felt like that really benefited us.
Q. Do you foresee veteran presence being a boost for the team as the season progresses?
A. Yes definitely. I think our setter, Maddie Delsingore, is doing a great job setting up our offense. Hailey being offensive player of the week was awesome. Caitlin Mahoney won defensive player of the week, and Vanessa LeBrun, our other returner, has brought great skills and made huge strides this season. So yes, I think they’re going to be a huge piece this season.
Q. How would you describe your coaching style?
A. Approachable. Especially at the D3 level, because part of my job isn’t just about making them better volleyball players but also better people. So, I think being approachable with the ability to talk to me about anything that’s on their mind is part of that. Having a good relationship with your coach I believe is super important.