LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Allison Waldvogel had never been to Wyoming, not even Yellowstone. Yet, it didn’t take her long to fall in love with the place.
Despite never visiting the state or its university until her official recruiting trip, the senior libero (defensive specialist) for Wyoming’s volleyball team had no doubt she wanted to be a Cowgirl.“My Dad (Tim) likes to tell people that once we looked at the UW website he knew I was going to Wyoming,” the native of Joliet, Ill., says. “It’s funny because I’ve only really ridden a horse one day, but I would love to own land and horses out here someday.”
Talk to Waldvogel for a little while, or her head coach Chad Callihan, or her teammates and you realize what a special young lady she is. She has produced quite a start to the 2015 Cowgirl volleyball season. During the season’s first month she has accomplished something only a handful of Cowgirls ever have. She heads into this week’s Wyoming Invite (Thursday through Saturday at the UniWyo Sports Complex) having been named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week twice! In addition to that, she is the only Cowgirl, ever, to receive the espnW National Player of the Week.
“Al is a quiet leader,” Callihan says. “She inspires everyone when she sacrifices her body defensively. She does something that is not easy to do. Her perseverance on defense allows us as a team to do things other teams can’t. She covers a large part of the court because she is very quick, skilled, aggressive, and plays with a very high volleyball IQ. Even though she is talented, she puts in a lot of time and hard work to be good, and I love that about her. She was not a great passer when she got here, but she has worked hard to become good at it, and she has really excelled.”
Waldvogel was the product of a very successful “club” team called Club Fusion in Marengo, Ill., an hour and a half away from her Joliet home. She travelled three hours a day to practice with that club. She chose to attend a Division II school, Lindenwood University (St. Charlies, Missouri), out of high school. But after two years decided to make a change. Callihan and his staff knew about her through her club team.
“I wanted to be a pharmacist, and I had heard that Wyoming had a good program,” Waldvogel says. “We contacted the coaching staff, and I came out for a visit. I liked everything about it, the program, the campus and the girls on the team. I could tell the team chemistry was special. Everyone was very welcoming to me, and that made it an easy transition.
“I’m so happy with my decision. People here are sincere. I really love the openness of the people and the country. The whole experience has been far more than I expected. I knew they were building a program here and I liked that. But I have really enjoyed the coaching staff, and the expectation level. Sure it’s hard work, but we are happy to do it for the results we get. While Coach Callihan is intense, he knows when to make things fun. I totally realize how blessed I am to be here and for this opportunity.”
Waldvogel is majoring in physiology and plans to earn a degree in pharmacy. An excellent student, she was an Academic All-Mountain West selection last year as well as a Mountain West Scholar Athlete. Through the first month of the season, Waldvogel leads the team in digs with 161, and has produced 499 for her career as the defensive specialist. One can only imagine what she might have done to the Wyoming record books had she been a Cowgirl for four years.
“As a back row player, defense is something I’ve done my whole life,” she says. “I had good coaches when I was at the club level, and that was a big help to me early on. Digging is a state of mind. You have to have the right attitude. The mentality has to be, ‘I’m not going to let this ball hit the floor’. I’m very willing to sacrifice my body to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The Cowgirls are off to an excellent start in 2015, but according to their libero, the team can get much better. “I think we have a lot of talented individuals,” says Waldvogel. “We have seen glimpses of what we can be, and we need to build on that. I think it says a lot about us that we were able to bounce back after our two losses and get a win. There is a lot of fight in this team. We are working into a groove.”
Waldvogel has really enjoyed the adventure of going to new places. She was excited to begin her collegiate career. She was excited to come to Wyoming. She looks forward to experiencing her next transition. “I certainly don’t know what that will be. In five years I want to be a pharmacist for sure, but I’ve always thought about playing beach volleyball. I don’t know how well that would mix with pharmacy, though” she smiles.
Don’t forget about the horses, either, Allison.