You’ve seen her win.
On the course.
On the court.
But, it is especially her success in coaching the Waverly-Shell Rock varsity volleyball team that has made her name known throughout Waverly — and surrounding areas. EaVon Woodin has coached nearly 30 seasons at W-SR, and her legacy has trickled over into her family’s lives, too.
Coaching her daughter, DeAnn, during her high school years inspired DeAnn to follow in her mom’s footsteps — and she’s just finishing up her 13th year of coaching at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.
DeAnn isn’t the only one, though. EaVon’s granddaughter, Madi, has also taken a liking to the sport. Madi, 14, currently plays volleyball for her high school team, Elkhorn South in Omaha, Nebraska, and has been bumping the ball since she was 7 years old.
“I always hoped that my kids and grandkids — I don’t care if it’s a sport or music — I just want them to be interested in something,” EaVon said. “Anything that challenges them and makes them work hard. It’s just something to carry on.”
And not only did she and husband, Jerry, instill a drive in their three children, they also passed on their athletic genes.
Back in high school and college, EaVon and Jerry were both impressive basketball players. When their kids went off to college, each one played a sport — and all three of the Woodin grandkids are sports fanatics as well.
But how EaVon came to coach volleyball is quite the story. Working for Pocahontas High School not long after graduating college, EaVon was approached by administrators who told her they would be cutting the school’s softball program in exchange for starting a volleyball team — and they wanted her at the helm as coach.
“I told him, ‘No, I don’t know anything about volleyball!’” EaVon said. “But, I had good athletes, and I went to Fort Dodge to start clinics and watch volleyball.”
And the rest is history.
In 1989, EaVon came to W-SR as the head volleyball coach and brought her unique coaching philosophy with her. Conducting business by the acronym A.C.E. — Attitude, Communication and Effort — EaVon built a successful program, and she even got to coach her daughter, DeAnn.
“She was tougher on me than my teammates — which I wanted,” DeAnn said. “I knew she always wanted the best for me and could get the most out of us. Also, I knew she had keys to the gym so we could get extra reps and spend extra time getting better.”
Coaching DeAnn on the varsity team her freshman through senior years meant the two spent a lot of time together — but then again, EaVon had been bringing her little girl to the gym with her since she was 2 years old.
“Volleyball was something that was always there,” EaVon said of her daughter’s athletic career.
The A.C.E. mentality stuck with DeAnn, and it is something that she carries with her today in her own coaching capacity.
“Growing up, my parents both worked extremely hard and have always been very giving of their time and energy to others,” DeAnn explained. “They hold themselves and others to high levels of character, and in order for them to consistently carry through, you have to have a great attitude, lots of communication and strong efforts.”
Madi was next up in line to try her hand at the sport, and she instantly fell in love. While both her aunt and grandmother encouraged her to do whatever would make her happy, Madi knew volleyball was the key. And, she said, keeping the legacy going is something she finds pretty awesome.
“I think that’s just cool, the experience throughout our family over the years and them being able to help coach me and help me get better,” Madi said.
“Naturally, [Madi] grew up hearing about our seasons and watching games, but we have never pushed her into the sport,” DeAnn said of her niece. “...I want her to know we love and value her way beyond what she does on the volleyball court. After all, it’s more about the habits and lessons she is learning through [the] sport and working with others more so than accolades and championships.”
And the life lessons have stuck with EaVon, too. Whether it be taking a team to the state championships or losing a hard fought battle to a rival team, EaVon said watching her athletes grow as people is what’s most important.
“The most rewarding part is just seeing the athletes develop as people and going on and taking what they’ve learned in volleyball and applying it to the rest of their life,” EaVon said.
One of EaVon’s biggest supporters and her husband of 46 years, Jerry, said no matter the record at the end of the season, he’ll always be proud of his wife.
“What I’m most proud of — for her, it’s not the wins and the losses,” Jerry said. “The wins that they talk about, that’s fine, but it’s what she has taught those young ladies all throughout the years. That to me — and to her — is the most important thing there is.”