College Counselor Kimberly Oden Speaks on Wellness & Inclusion Panel

CH Associate Director of College Counseling Kimberly Oden participated in a panel on wellness and inclusion in sports for the Art of Coaching Volleyball organization which provides tools and resources to help coaches develop their teams and players to their full potential.
Mrs. Oden is a two-time women’s volleyball Olympian and served as captain of the USA team for both the 1988 Seoul and the 1992 Barcelona Olympic teams, winning bronze in 1992. She was a two-time NCAA Volleyball National Player of the Year and former assistant coach at Stanford, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke, and Iowa State.

The panel explored how to have critical conversations about diversity and inclusion with players. Mrs. Oden noted: “A team has to be united. There can be no divisions and no cliques. Each person must feel a part of the group and the coaches are the ones who must constantly monitor this. One of my sole responsibilities as a coach is to sow unity, empowerment, and synergy. I work hard to rid the teams I work with of any division.”

One of the ways Mrs. Oden says she has accomplished this with past teams and what she advises other coaches to do is to “Face head on the things dividing us, including racism. Coaches must be willing to have conversations with their players, to be uncomfortable, and to rectify the situation when warranted by stepping in to provide guidance in order to maintain a warm and unified team.”

Mrs. Oden feels that it is essential to open up a space for students to say what’s in their hearts in relation to the team and their own lives. “It’s important not to let the ‘cancel culture’ take over. People can be redeemed. They can make mistakes and it's okay based on how you recover and how you go on from there. Own up to the fact that ‘I don’t know it all’ and ‘I don’t know your experience but I’m open to hearing about it.’ With all that, we can put all our differences together in a synergistic motion to get the best out of our whole team.”

In addition to her role in the college counseling office at Campbell Hall, Mrs. Oden chairs the Board of Starlings Volleyball, a nonprofit that she helped found that is dedicated to providing girls the opportunity to play club volleyball, regardless of socioeconomic background or level of play. Starlings is now the nation’s largest junior volleyball club.

Click here to watch the interview.
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