With over 600 career wins, six WIAC conference championships, seven WIAC Tournament championships and 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, Brenda Volk has amounted a lengthy list of accolades during her time as the UW-Whitewater head softball coach. However, accolades are not what have defined Volk’s tenure at UW-W.
Volk, who is entering her 20th season with the Warhawks, puts one objective above everything else as a head coach.
“I want them to be happy here,” Volk said. “There’s been a couple of years that we’ve had a few struggles and had a kid in tears because she’s just not happy. I take that personally. For me to know that someone playing for me isn’t happy, not necessarily because of me, but just because of something going on, I take that personally.”
Volk’s caring attitude toward her players may have shaped her coaching philosophy, which she described as a non-yelling approach.
“To me there’s really no need to yell at these players for anything,” Volk said. “They know if they make mistakes, you don’t have to yell at them if they make errors.”
Volk’s devotion and understanding coaching style have been noticed by her players, including senior second basemen Michayla Swanson.
“She’s very dedicated, on and off the field,” Swanson said. “She’s very interested how things are going in our lives and making sure we’re all in a good place. Honestly, she’s kind of motherly in that way; she always wants us to do well and she hurts with us while we’re hurting.”
Volk’s effort to make her players as happy as possible has led to more than just smiles on and off the diamond; it has also leads to a lot of wins.
“Since day one she’s been so genuine in trying to get to know all of her players,” senior outfielder Mallory Klotz said. “I think that’s had a huge effect on how we perform on the field, because we want to win for her.”
Volk’s players’ will to win for her has put her career record at 608-245-4. She is only the 34th coach in D-III history to amass over 600 wins and is one of only 20 active coaches to reach the 600-win milestone. Volk’s 600th victory came during the Warhawks’ March 28 spring trip game in Florida against Middlebury.
“We feel pretty lucky,” Swanson said regarding the experience of Volk’s 600th win. “That’s just not a lot of games, that’s a lot of wins.”
Klotz, who was a freshman with Swanson when Volk won her 500th game in 2015, has a newfound appreciation for her coach’s milestones as a senior.
“I just remember celebrating, but you’re a freshman so you don’t really get it yet,” Klotz said. “Now as a senior, I’m seeing those freshman like ‘oh this is exciting, we’re celebrating our coach, it’s a really cool thing’. It’s been cool to see that. Even though my relationship to start with her was really good, I’ve seen it grow just so much in these past few years, that it was even that more exciting to see her get some recognition.”
Still, Volk is more concerned about her players and their lives then her own accomplishments.
“I want them to be best friends,” Volk said. “I want this to be the best experience of their life.”