UCF Volleyball is having one of the most successful seasons in program history. The Knights are ranked for the first time in program history, have an RPI of 11, and are sitting on top of the American Athletic Conference.
It’s been a historic year under Head Coach Todd Dagenais, who took over the UCF Knights’ program in 2007. One of the players that was there when Dagenais arrived was Erin Campbell.
Campbell played at UCF from 2006-2009 and was part of many transitions at UCF. Going from Head Coach Meg Colado to Dagenais, the program was starting play in Conference USA after being in the A-Sun.
Campbell ranks 6th all-time at UCF in kills (1,190), aces (76), solo blocks (44), and points scored (1365.5), and is 4th all-time in digs (1,1,22).
Since finishing her UCF career, Erin Ward (that’s her married name), is running a digital marketing agency and is still involved in volleyball, working as a TV color commentator for ESPN3 and the American Digital Network.
Eric Lopez (ELO): What have you been up to since you graduated from UCF?
Erin Campbell: I am running a digital marketing agency - WSI Digital Solutions Group - that helps businesses market their products and services through online channels. I also run an apparel company - Eola Apparel - which is influenced by our love for all things Florida!
ELO: What was it about UCF that helped you decide to come play Volleyball here?
Erin: I had the opportunity to visit a few colleges during my recruiting process and in fact, I was almost committed to another school but my dad had met the assistant coach at the time at the airport and we decided to just give UCF a shot. I literally stepped off the plane and knew I needed to be in Orlando. I hadn’t even stepped on campus and my mind was made up. But when I saw campus, met my teammates, and met my coaches, it only validated my decision.
ELO: What influenced you to play volleyball?
Erin: I actually told this story the other day and honestly, I had forgotten about it. I had played soccer since I could walk. My sisters had played volleyball and so my mom thought I should try and play volleyball as well. I never really took it seriously and it was the sport that I played for “fun.” But in middle school, I was playing against a rival (St. Charles in Kansas City), and after the match, a gentleman came up to me and told me that I was one of the best players he’d ever seen at that level. From that point on, I dedicated myself to volleyball, but played soccer for fun.
ELO: You have been TV color commentator for volleyball at different levels. Compare broadcasting volleyball and prep to playing volleyball.
Erin: The prep is actually very similar. In college athletics, we watch a TON of film to understand our opponents. We watch how the other players play, what their tendencies are, what we need to do to execute the gameplan. Broadcasting prep is the same - we watch film, look for talking points that would make the game more interesting or understand how a player does the things she does, and then we execute on TV. I get the same gameday jitters that I would as a player!
ELO: What was your favorite moment of your UCF playing career?
Erin: I have two. My first was after my first grueling pre-season. It was the hardest two weeks of my life and I didn’t know if my parents would come down for our home opener. But I saw them in the stands and got very emotional. My parents were a huge part of my collegiate career and they didn’t miss many matches. The second was being the fifth player in school history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. We weren’t home when it happened, but my parents where there and it was a very emotional moment that I was able to share with them and my second family - my teammates.
ELO: What are your thoughts on UCF’s success in 2018, being ranked for the first time in program history with your former head coach Todd Dagenais?
Erin: I am insanely proud of how far they have come. Todd’s dedication to the program is really the reason why it’s excelled the way it has. He’s been able to recruit girls that buy in to his mentality and the program, which is why they are doing so well.
ELO: How would you describe your style of play to people who maybe did not see you play and how do you want to remembered by Knights fans?
Erin: I was part of the last generation of the big jumping, shorter players (5’10”). My focus was to always be a good all-around player so I would actually work on my passing and defense more than my attacking. I loved to block and was once told that I was one of the best solo blockers a coach had ever seen. I played with a lot of emotion and would be the first in a huddle cheering my head off.
ELO: Tell us how fans can get more information on your line of work and stay in touch with what your doing nowadays.
You can listen to Erin’s appearance on Black and Gold Banneret podcast from November 17, 2016.