Administration

Karen Sonders, Executive Director

Playing background:
Karen grew up in Crystal Lake, IL where she competed for Sky High volleyball club and Crystal Lake Central High School. She was a three-year varsity starter on a team ranked in the top ten in the state all three years. In her time at Crystal Lake Central, she set a school record for most kills in a season, was an FVC all-conference selection, all-area selection, and Chicago Tribune all-state special mention as a setter and outside hitter.
Karen went on to accept a full-scholarship to play for Michigan Tech University (1998-2001), where she completed her degree in biomedical engineering. Karen played both outside and right side hitter and was named MVP in her sophomore year. A 3-time All-GLIAC selection, Karen finished her tenure as the school’s season and career leader in digs.


Coaching Background:
Karen began her coaching career 16 years ago where she spent three seasons as the head varsity volleyball coach at Chassell Township High School in Michigan. In 2002, she earned Conference Coach of the Year honors after taking over a team that had never won a match and leading it to the conference championship the next year.

Between 2003 and 2006, Karen served on the volleyball staff at the University of Wisconsin Madison as the director of operations. At Wisconsin, Sonders directed and managed five camps with more than 1,000 participants, 40 employees and five sites. During her time at Wisconsin, the team made two NCAA Elite Eight appearances.

Karen was also the development director with Wisconsin Power Volleyball and in 2003, club director at the Fusion Volleyball Academy in Crystal Lake, Ill. In addition to her duties as FVA’s club director, Sonders served as facility manager for the Fusion Sports Center. With Wisconsin Power Volleyball in 2004, Sonders led her 18's team to its first Junior Olympic Nationals, preparing all 10 players for careers in collegiate volleyball.

Karen Sonders came to Northwestern as an assistant coach in March of 2006. Karen assisted in all aspects of the Wildcats' program, including on-court instruction , recruiting, scouting and the coordination of camps. She also coordinated the team defense, coached the outside hitters and liberos, built scouting reports, handled team travel and managed the Northwestern coaching clinic. In her first season with the program, three different Wildcats landed on Northwestern single-season top-10 lists. She helped freshman libero Kate Nobilio to the second-best single-season dig total in school history, and coached Lindsay Anderson into the NU 1,000-Kill Club. Under Karen’s in-game instruction in 2007, Northwestern set a program record with 339.5 total blocks, holding opponents to a paltry .169 hitting percentage. In addition, middle blocker Chelsy Hyser earned AVCA All-Region accolades, becoming the first Wildcat to win an All-Region honor since 2002. Karen grew the Wildcats' volleyball camps into the largest they have ever been in just her first year at the helm of the sessions.

Karen founded Wildcat Jrs. VBC in 2007, beginning with five teams ages U12-U14. Through it’s continued success, the club has grown to twenty four teams from U11-U18 and has become the premier club of the North Shore and Chicagoland area.

The 2012 season marked several firsts for Wildcat Juniors. The club graduated its first class of seniors, sending more than half to play D1 volleyball in college. There were several seniors, juniors, and even a few sophomores who accepted full scholarships to top volleyball programs. And two of our athletes were selected to play on the USA Junior National Team — the only two players selected from Illinois.

In 2013, after taking a break to finish a Masters degree in Nursing from DePaul University and having a baby, Karen jumped back into coaching as the head coach of 18 Black. The team finished the Great Lakes Power League with a record of 18-6. At the AAU National Championships, Karen led 18 Black to a 9-3 record, winning the Silver Division and taking 16th place in the 18 Open.

In 2014, Karen coached 18 Black to a 5th place finish in the 18 Open at the AAU National Championships in Orlando, FL. The team played a whopping 15 matches in 4 days, with a record of 11-4 including the team's crossover match against Peru in the International Division. Karen also guided the team to a 1st place championship and an 8-0 record at the JVA Midwest Challenge in Des Moines, IA with a huge wins over Nebraska Jrs and Iowa Rockets in the semis and finals.

As a Lead Trainer, Karen oversaw the development of the juniors and seniors that made up the club's 18's age group. Karen prepared all ten seniors for their college volleyball careers: six of which were on full scholarships to DI schools, one on full scholarship at a DII university and three will be continuing on to play at DIII universities. In that senior group, Karen also coached 2013 USA National Team player, Taylor Tashima, who was chosen as a 2014 All-American after her performance at AAU Nationals. 


Personal Information:
Karen and her husband, Dave, have two young daughters, Quinn (7 years) and Macie (3 year). In 2012, Karen completed her Masters in Nursing at DePaul University. Karen is a member of the AVCA, USAV and JVA.

Cassie Rose, Program Director, Lead Trainer, Head Coach

Playing Background:

Cassie grew up in Cary, IL where she competed for Sky High volleyball club and Cary-Grove High School. In high school, she was a three-year varsity starter and played middle from 1999 - 2003. In 2001, she led her team to their first Super Sectional Appearance in the Illinois’ State Tournament. She was named All-Conference, Daily Herald All-Area, Northwest Herald All-Area, Sun Times All-Area and also earned Tribune and News-Gazette All-State honors. Cassie played club volleyball for Sky High Volleyball, out of Crystal Lake, IL where her team ranked in the top 10 nationally throughout her career.

Cassie went on to accept a full-scholarship to play for Florida State University.  Cassie begin her collegiate career in 2003 at FSU where she was named ACC Freshman of the Year and voted the East Region’s Freshman of the Year by the AVCA in 2003.  In 2003, she recorded 21 double-digit kill performances, had nine straight matches with double-digit kills, posted as season-high 18 kills on three different occasions, led the team and finished in a tie for fourth in the ACC with 44 service aces and also led the team with 360 kills on the season. 

After two seasons with the Seminoles, Cassie transferred to Northwestern University in 2005 where she finished out her career and graduated in 2007.  In 2005, she finished the year with a .305 hitting percentage, the fourth–best average in Northwestern single-season history.  At NU, Cassie helped the Cats to the first second-round appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2006.

From 2008-2009, Cassie played professional volleyball in Kuusamo, Finland. She competed for Paka Lentopallo in the top Finish division.  Cassie represented the Great Lakes Region’s professional volleyball team at USA Volleyball Adult Open National Championships in 2011 & 2012.

 

Coaching Background:

This will be Cassie’s sixth season with Wildcat Juniors. Last season, Cassie coached 18 Black to an 18th place finish in the Open division at AAU Junior Nationals in Orlando, Florida.  In 2014, she led 15 Back to a 20th place finish in the Open division and in 2011, she led her 14 Black team to a 27th place finish in the Open division, highlighted by huge wins over local rivals Sports Performance 14 Elite and Milwaukee Sting 14 Gold.

Cassie started coaching during college at FSU, doing their team camps and all-skills camps. While playing at Northwestern, she coached NU’s team camps in the summers and coached club volleyball for Sky High, both their 13’s & 14’s age groups; she continued to coach at Sky High for five seasons before moving downtown and joining Wildcat Juniors.  After college Cassie began coaching for All-American Volleyball camps nationwide with other college and professional volleyball players.  These camps would take her coast-to-coast, doing camps anywhere from Florida, to Iowa, to Alaska. 

Cassie is lead trainer for our 17's and 18's age groups where she oversees the training and development of our juniors and seniors. She is also the Recruiting Coordinator and assists in our players' recruiting process & journey.

 

Personal Background:

Cassie currently resides with her husband, David Rose, in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Cassie has a Masters Degree of Education in Community Counseling from Loyola University Chicago and a Bachelors Degree from Northwestern University.  Cassie enjoys Pilates, cooking, and spending time with her puppy Roy. Cassie is a member of the Northwestern Women's Volleyball Board.

Kirstine Jensen, Lead Trainer, Recruiting Liason, VolleyKITS, Head Coach, Lessons

Playing Background
Kirstine grew up in Aurora, IL where she competed for Sports Performance Volleyball Club and West Aurora High School. She was a four year varsity letter winner and five time USA Volleyball All-American as an outside and middle hitter. Kirstine went on to accept a full scholarship to play for Ohio State University (1992-1995) and legendary coach Jim Stone. In 1994, Kirstine helped lead OSU to the NCAA Final Four and a Big Ten title. Her career hitting percentage ranks in the top 20 of Buckeye record books. Kirstine completed her degree in speech and hearing sciences, graduating magna cum laude. Kirstine played both outside and right side hitter and was also a four-time scholar athlete for the Buckeyes.

Coaching Background
Kirstine entered the collegiate coaching ranks sixteen years ago as an assistant coach at Ohio university where she helped the program to its first ever MAC East Championship in 2000. Between 2002-2005, Kirstine served as an assistant coach at Florida State University where she recruited Wildcat Jrs. Program Director, Cassie Rose! Following FSU, Kirstine returned to her Illinois roots where she spent three seasons as the assistant at Northern Illinois University and was promoted to the associate head coach in 2008. Kirstine headed to Evanston in 2009 as the assistant coach at Northwestern University where she helped lead the Wildcats to their 2nd round NCAA tournament appearance in 2010 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2015. Under Kirstine’s tutelage she has coach seven AVCA All-Americans and one AVCA Regional Freshman of the Year.  

Personal Background
Kirstine and her husband Tim have a young son, Jaxen (2.5 years) and live in Skokie, IL.

Evelyn Kim, Head Coach, Lead Trainer, Lessons

Playing Experience:
Evelyn started playing vollyeball when she was 11years old in Korea.
5 years-Attended Seoul, Korea Athletic Junior and High School, trained by a former Olympic setter, Jung Hye YU (1976 Montreal Olympics).
1 year-Artesia High School in California.
2 years-Cerritos College in California.
              All conference team, MVP in college, etc (insert other awards that Evelyn claims she cannot remember! )
2 years-Illinois State University
              NCAA DIV I. Ranked 12th
              All Conference Team
              Gate Way Conference Champions
              Texas A&M Tourney Champions
              Redbird Classic Champions
6 years-Chicago Women's Korea Olympic Volleyball Team
4 years-USAV Women Open Division
10 years-USAV Women AA/A Division

 

Coaching Experience:

This is Evelyn's 4th year coaching with Wildcat Jrs. Evelyn has coached 15's and 16's. This will be her first year with the 18's and 13's age groups! Prior to coming to Wildcat Jrs:
6 years-Sky High 16's JO head coach
6 years-Chicago Women's Korean Olympic Volleyball team
3 years-Illinois State University Assistant Graduate Coach
5 years-Illinois State University and University of Tennessee summer volleyball counselor
12 years- Private lessons with players Junior high through college players

 

Personal Background:
Evelyn was born in Korea raised in Seoul until she was 17 years old, when her family decided move to California.  Currently, she resides in Palatine, Illinois with her husband Sung K Yoo ( aka, SKY or Master Yoo, as he holds a 9th degree black belt in Taekwondo.)  Both Evelyn and SKY went to Korea/ Seoul Athletic High School in Korea. They reunited 28 years later in the US and got married 6 years ago :). Currently, Evelyn is working as a teacher at St.Johnberchmans School in Chicago. Evelyn has been teaching for over 20 years.

Playing background:

Cassie started playing volleyball in Ann Arbor, Michigan when she was in 7th grade and immediately fell in love with the sport.  She was an Ann Arbor Pioneer High School Varsity Team starter her sophomore year on.  She earned the Coaches Award during her junior season and was named the MVP her sophomore and senior years.  She was a three-time All Conference player.

Cassie played college volleyball at the University of Michigan from 2006 through 2009.  During her time at Michigan the Wolverines had four NCAA Tournament Appearances, two Sweet Sixteen Appearances, and one Elite Eight Appearance, which was the best finish in program history.  Cassie was a three time Scholar Athlete for the University of Michigan.

Cassie has continued to play recreationally at two USAV Adult National Tournaments as well as locally in beach volleyball tournaments on North Ave.

Coaching background:

Cassie has been coaching volleyball since she was 18.  She started coaching for MJuniors Volleyball Club out of Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2006, where she stayed for four seasons, coaching 14 through 18 and under teams.  She then started coaching for A2 Volleyball Club when the club was founded by the University of Michigan Head Volleyball Coach, Mark Rosen.  She coached the 18-1, 15-2, 16-1, and 14-1 teams while coaching for A2.

Cassie also coached the University of Michigan Men’s Club Team for one season from 2010-2011 before she went to pursue her Master’s in Social Work.  While earning her Master’s from the University of Michigan from 2011-2013, Cassie was the Varsity Volleyball Coach at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Cassie’s first year coaching the program was also the first year that the high school had four full classes of students.  The Skyline Volleyball Team won their home tournament both years under her leadership.  They finished as the runner-up in their District during Cassie’s last season with the team.

In 2013, Cassie moved to Delaware where she was the Assistant Coach for the Goldey-Beacom College Women’s Volleyball Team.  Goldey-Beacom was a Division 2 school that competed in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.  Cassie also coached the 15-1 team at Club Delaware in the spring.

Cassie moved back to the Midwest in the summer of 2014.  She is the Volunteer Assistant Coach for the DePaul Women’s Volleyball Team as well as a Middle School Coach at Latin School of Chicago. Cassie coached the 17 Black team in 2015 during her first season with Wildcats.

Personal information:

Cassie lives in Lakeview with her boyfriend, Craig Boller.  She enjoys reading, walking along the lake, and playing recreational volleyball.

Toni Alford, Lead Trainer, Head Coach

Playing Experience:

Toni spent the first fourteen years of her life in New Orleans, Louisiana where she started playing volleyball at 9 years old. She played on the High School JV team at 12 years old (that's how small her school was). She moved to Evanston at 15 years old (culture shock) and played for Evanston Township High School where she was all-conference 3 years in a row. She played on the first ever Sports Performance 18 Elite Club Volleyball Team and received a full-scholarship to play at Northwestern University. Toni played at Northwestern from 1982-1985. Her team won the Big Ten Championship two years in a row and made the NCAA tournament all four years. Toni is a member of the Northwestern Women's Volleyball Board.

Coaching Experience:

This year is Toni's 8th season coaching at Wildcat Juniors. She has coached the 12s, 14s, 15s and 18s. This will be her third season as the 12 Black head coach.

Personal Information:

Toni lives in Evanston, is married and has two kids in college (lucky her). While enjoying her empty nest she keeps herself busy coaching, training for triathlons and rowing in regattas. Toni was an athlete for Team USA at the 2014 Triathlon World Championships in Edmonton, Canada and finished 24th in the World. Toni is passionate about teaching young people how to play volleyball and is excited for another great season!

Ryan was born and raised in Oak Park, IL. Ryan learned the game of volleyball through his older brother, a local EVP Pro in the Chicagoland area. Ryan quickly fell in love with the sport, and soon enough was playing in his local park district team at the age of 10. In junior high and high school, Ryan was recognized as a natural born leader, and was nominated as team captain for every team he played for in high school and club. Ryan played at Sports Performance Volleyball Club starting his freshman year, where he was trained as a right side hitter. By his senior year of high school, Ryan was ranked Top-20 in Illinois by the Chicago Tribune.  

After high school, Ryan attended College Of DuPage, where he started the COD Men's Club Volleyball Team. Representing the club as the president, coach, and captain, Ryan lead the team to 3 consecutive NCVF national championships. After his playing success at COD, Ryan was offered an athletic scholarship to play Division I Men's Volleyball at Quincy University, where he played for the next 2 years.

Coaching Background:

Ryan is currently in his 4th year coaching for Wildcat Juniors. This past season he was the head coach for 14 White and has worked in our 14's and 15's age groups. Ryan is passionate about bringing the beach game to the indoor players at Wildcat Jrs. A life-long indoor volleyball player, started playing beach volleyball competitively at the age of 16, spending his free summer days trekking to North Avenue Beach. In his college years, Ryan used his summers every year to play and train regularly on the beach with other high-level players, and he competed against some of the best players Chicago and the Midwest have to offer in tournament play. His love for the game and extensive experience playing at a high level make him a great coach to teach the beach volleyball game.

Personal Information:

Ryan lives in downtown Chicago. He works by day as an IT Consultant, and in his free time enjoys being outside, watching movies, and tinkering with computers.

 

High School:

§  4 year Varsity letter winner at Portage Central High School

§  Nominee for 2010 Michigan Miss Volleyball Award

§  AVCA 2010-11 Under Armour Girls High School All America’s Watch List

§  Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association first-team All-State selection 2010

§  First-team All-State 2009

§  Advanced in state tournament to state finals 2009

§  All-region, All-District Honors as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior

Club:

§  Dead Frog Far Out Volleyball Club Alumni

§  Placed 3rd at the 2010 AAU Junior National Championships

§  Honored as a 2010 AAU National All-American

College:

§  Played at Michigan State University from 2011-2014

§  All 4 years appeared in the NCAA Tournament

§  Contributed to two back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances

§  2013 Spartan Invitational All-Tournament Team

 

Coaching History

§  2012-2017 Michigan State Summer Camp Coach

§  2015-2016 All-American Volleyball Camp Coach

§  2015 Western Michigan University Summer Camp Coach

§  2015 Spring Dead Frog Far Out 15’s Capital Blue Coach

§  2015 Spring Dead Frog Far Out 14’s Capital White Coach

§  2016 Legacy 16 National Assistant Coach, qualified for JO’s

§  2017 Legacy 16 National Head Coach, placed 5th at Nationals

§  2017 Legacy Position Training Lead Coach

§  2017 Co-Director of Hurricanes Volleyball Club

§  Offer Private/Group Lessons

 

Personal

§  Graduated Michigan State University with a degree in Hospitality Business.

§  New to the area of Chicago, IL but love every second of it.

§  Husband is an Assistant Collegiate Men’s Basketball coach at Loyola University

§  My family lives in Indianapolis, Indiana and I enjoy traveling to visit them!