Athlete of the Month: Clare Oudard


Oudard in action during a rivalry game against Santa Clara High. Courtesy of Ricky Bose.

Azul Faurrieta Ruiz, Staff Writer

Being on the varsity team all 3 years of high school, junior Clare Oudard is one of Wilcox High’s star volleyball players. Oudard expresses that her main inspiration to play volleyball is her dad since he also played the sport most of his life; from middle school til’ college. According to Oudard, she enjoys playing because “it involves a lot of thinking and it’s not just athletic — you have to think about what you’re doing and have a strategy.” Oudard is one of the best volleyball players in the Wilcox community, initially starting on the junior varsity team in the midst of her freshman year, but once Varsity Coach, Coach April Lujan, saw the exemplary potential in her, Oudard was immediately recruited to varsity. That same year, she took home the title of Best Freshman Player.
Coach Lujan brags that Oudard stands out when she plays and that she is a talented player who has a big contribution to the team, while the star player herself cherishes this memory as “one of her proudest moments and something rewarding to her hard work”. Other than being one of Wilcox’s representatives, Oudard also plays competitive volleyball for City Beach Club. As her achievements morph into medals on the wall, Oudard also faces harsh setbacks from her worst enemy — herself as Oudard’s love for volleyball has caused her to push herself past her limits.
Earlier this year, Oudard was forced to undergo back surgery because of volleyball. Though it began to bother her during last year’s October, Oudard ultimately decided to ignore it and keep playing. This did not play out well as in January, her small back pain started to spread to her legs, seizing her attention more and more until she decided she needed to seek help from her doctor. After thoughtful analysis, Oudard found out that she would need to have back surgery. With her back to the wall, Oudard had no other option but to undergo surgery and on April 7, she was left with metal rods to keep her vertebrae in place, a foreignty that proved to be a severe setback. Being on bed rest for more than four months, Oudard lost everything, and at the core, she had to learn to walk all over again. Not being able to get out of bed or go outside was a nightmare for Oudard — all she wanted to do was get back up and leave her injury in her past. Six months later and fully healed, Oudard says that no matter what, you should “always push through”. On October 1, Oudard was officially cleared and returned back to the Wilcox home court..
Considering her sportsmanship playing this sport, her teammates say that Oudard is the inspiration of their team, always hyping them up before a game. According to fellow teammate Mati Stock, “Clare is an example to us and other volleyball players in our school.” Additionally, fellow teammate and up-and-coming sophomore Neda Salehi follows by raving, “Clare is an inspiration to all of us. She encourages us and helps us get back up without stressing us.”. On the court, Stock and Salehi may be Clare’s teammates but they double as family, singing in Oudard’s high praises, knowing her as a fun and determined person, always driven to do what’s right and never give up. Clare Oudard’s positivity and enthusiasm are some of the few qualities that make her the star player she is today and one of our best volleyball players in the Wilcox community.