V-Ball assistant fundamental to Hawkeyes' play


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Ben Boldt brings his own flair to the Iowa women’s volleyball team as a defensive specialist focused on the fundamentals.

Boldt has been a part of the Hawkeyes for four years. Before coming to Iowa City, he was honing his skills as an assistant with the Alabama Crimson Tide and now-Big Ten foe Nebraska Cornhuskers.

“You teach what you’ve been taught,” the Hickman, Neb., native said. “I got a lot of my ideas from when I was in college at Nebraska. You get your basis from what you know initially and roll from there.”

Boldt spent five seasons as an assistant at Nebraska and in 2006, his final season in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers earned their third NCAA championship with a win over Stanford. Prior to the 2007 season, Boldt moved on to help coach the Crimson Tide. He spent two seasons in Alabama before coming to Iowa with wife Angie Boldt — the Hawkeyes’ director of volleyball operations.

After joining the Hawkeye coaching staff, he was able to instill a defensive culture that helped attract such top recruits as Texan Bethany Yeager.

“Ben was one of the main reasons why I decided to come here,” junior libero Yeager said. “He’s an awesome defensive coach, and that’s what my position [entails].”

When head coach Sharon Dingman is preoccupied with other off-the-court tasks, Boldt is the coach called upon to lead practice with the other assistants. That’s when he’s able to instill his own energy into the Hawkeyes.

“Ben is so animated and brings a passion to the sport in a different way than [Coach Dingman] does,” senior defensive specialist Allison Straumman said. “Ben is also very focused on the effort plays: Getting the ball up, being excited to be here, and just having that passion every time you’re on the court.”

Boldt is not only highly respected among his players but also around the nation. The near decade he has spent learning the intricacies of volleyball garnered him the respect of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. In the spring of 2009, Boldt was awarded the “Thirty Under 30 Award,” which was established to recognize up-and-coming professionals in the sport across all levels.

Boldt, even with the recognition, is still a work in progress as a coach. He teaches from experience but has also learned on the job.

“Every year he has gotten more comfortable expressing himself,” fifth-year assistant coach Jason Allen said. “He comes from a philosophy that’s more training and skill and technique work rather than playing. Sharon likes to train and teach through playing, and Ben likes to train and teach through actual schoolwork and breaking things down.”

While on the court Boldt holds high expectations for his players. The energy he brings to drills in practice is the same energy he brings to the court and during his frequent participation in the team’s scrimmages. His players understand that they have to work hard to be successful, and all of them try to embody that when they play.

“When Ben gives you a high-five, it’s a big deal; he doesn’t just give that to anybody,” Yeager said. “The mentality with him is to work as hard as you can all the time. He sets that tone for us.”

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