Co-Owner, Executive Director
Hello MOD Squad! As an owner of the club, my core belief is that you can be compassionate AND competitive at the same time. We work hard to instill the belief that winning is a result rather than a goal – development is at the heart of everything we do. Communication and building the complete athlete are always my first priorities.
My path to MOD began at Loyola University of Chicago, where I played on the DI mens team and earned my Masters of Business Administration. This mix of education and athletics created the comprehensive view I hold of club sports. Though I found my way onto the court occasionally at Loyola, I pride myself on the three years I spent as captain – creating a culture that I like to claim led to back to back National Championships!
Professionally, before entering the club scene, I spent my career working in the Operations and Marketing field for the Sport and Social Club and the Chicago Bears. I learned the importance of communication, connection, and organization at the highest level. It was an honor to work for companies that lead the country in their respective fields. I made the move to D1 (now MOD) in 2016 to support Shane and Andrea Davis as the club grew. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Playing & Coaching Experience
- Growing up in the West Suburbs of Chicago, Derek played Outside Hitter for SPVB from age 11-18. His team was consistently ranked top 5 in the country, taking 2nd at the 2003 USAV Nationals and 5th in 2004 and 2005 while earning three All-American awards. He also set for his High School team, which definitely wasn’t as good as his club team…
- 2005-2009: Libero for Loyola University Chicago Men’s Volleyball Team
- 2006-2009: Captain of LUMVB, 4 times MIVA Academic All-Conference
- 2010: Graduated from Loyola University with Masters in Business Administration
- 2010: Graduate Assistant for Loyola Mens Volleyball
- 2010-2014: Marketing and League Development Manager at Chicago Sport and Social Club
- 2014/2015: Fan Marketing and Research for Chicago Bears
- 2007-current: Division1/MOD VBC Head Coach
- 2015-2017: Dominican University Men’s Volleyball Assistant Coach
- 2017 NCAA Elite Eight appearance for Dominican
- 2018-present: Junior Volleyball Association Board of Directors
Co-Owner, Executive Director
Welcome, MOD athletes and families! I first began my coaching career 19 years ago, and have been fortunate to experience a very exciting journey through the world of sports. My favorite quote has always been “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – I believe, with what we are building together at MOD, I have the opportunity to live out that mantra every day. With my focus being on development and training, I am able to connect with our athletes and coaches to share my passion. I am so grateful for all of the formative experiences I’ve shared with teammates, friends, and co-workers through club volleyball, and providing those same opportunities to the next generation of young volleyball players remains one of the main driving factors towards bettering our own club and community.
I grew up in Crystal Lake, IL where I competed for Sky High volleyball club and Crystal Lake Central High School. I was a three-year varsity starter on a team ranked in the top ten in the state all three years. In my time at Crystal Lake Central, I 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. During my club career as a player, I have won the Northern Lights Qualifier in the 16 Open division and placed 2nd in the Northeast Qualifier in the 18 Open. My team finished in 8th in the 18 Open of USA Jr. Nationals her senior season. I went on to accept a full-scholarship to play for Michigan Tech University (1998-2001), where I completed my BS in biomedical engineering. I played both outside and right side hitter, and was named MVP during my sophomore year. A 3-time All-GLIAC selection, I finished my tenure as the school’s season and career leader in digs.
I founded Wildcat Jrs. VBC in 2007, beginning with five teams ages U12-U14. Through it’s continued success, the club grew to twenty seven teams between U11-U18 and became established as a premier club of the North Shore and Chicagoland area. Now MOD, our program continues a strong tradition of developing well-rounded volleyball student athletes who are community-minded.
I currently reside in North Carolina with my husband Dave and our two young daughters, Quinn and Macie.
- 2000-2002: Head Varsity Coach at Chassell Township High School in Michigan, Conference Coach of the Year honors
- 2003-2006: Director of Operations, University of Wisconsin Madison Women’s Volleyball staff, 2 NCAA Elite Eight appearances
- Development Director with Wisconsin Power Volleyball
- 2003: Club Director at the Fusion Volleyball Academy in Crystal Lake, IL
- 2006: Asst. Coach at Northwestern University.
- 2007: Founded Wildcat Jrs. VBC
- 2008-2020: Director of Wildcat Jrs. & a slew of additional administrative roles
- 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.
- Starting in 2015, Karen focused solely on the day-to-day duties of managing and directing the club. It’s continued growth, has led to an amazing staff of 37 coaches – aka the dream team! Karen takes great pride in maintaining great relationships with her coaching staff, including continuing professional development and constantly striving for improvement.
- Karen implemented the annual community service team event, which put over 250 youth players into our surrounding community in various respects – giving back and growing as young leaders. All the while deepening the team’s bonding and understanding how to work with one another.
Director of Girls Volleyball
I am from New Lenox, IL and attended Lincoln-Way Central High School where I was an AVCA High School All-American and 3 year varsity starter. I also played for Ultimate Volleyball Club in Frankfort, IL during my high school years. During college I was a four-year starter at Carthage, racking up AVCA All-America honors each season, including three first-team selections. I Led the NCAA in assists per set in 3 of 4 seasons, and led Carthage to the final four in 3 of 4 seasons. In 2011 I became the program’s second-ever AVCA NCAA Division III Newcomer of the Year, and in 2013 was named the Continental Volleyball Conference Player of the Year. To this day I still hold the record as the program’s all-time leader in assists.
I was previously the Assistant Coach for Loyola University Chicago Men’s Volleyball, where I helped the Ramblers to 80 victories, four winning seasons, four AVCA top 15 ranked seasons, and 4 team AVCA Academic Award winning seasons. In 2018, I played a key role as Loyola claimed a share of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) regular season title and finished the year ranked No. 7 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I-II Poll. I coached multiple All-American’s during time at Loyola. Additionally, I served as a coach for USA Volleyball, working for Future Select A1 at the High Performance Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and for A3 in suburban Vernon Hills, Ill. During the summer of 2018, I coached Youth A1 at High Performance Championships in Tulsa, Okla., and again worked with Select A3 in Vernon Hills.
I coach because volleyball has been a passion of mine for 14 years, since I discovered the sport. Volleyball and the people I have met through the sport have given me so much: a reason to want to go to college, a postgraduate degree, a career, and even a fiancée (Lizzy Briones and I met at High Performance Championships when we were 16). I feel it is my responsibility to return that favor. Outside of work, The Office is my all time favorite TV show, and Lizzy and I have a Wheaton Terrier named Remi. To close out with some fun facts, golf is my second favorite sport and I have 3 siblings – 2 older sisters and 1 younger brother.
- 2015 Men’s Volleyball Graduate Assistant Coach at Carthage College
- 2015 Kenosha Bradford High School Head Boys Volleyball Coach
- 2016-2020 Men’s Volleyball Assistant Coach at Loyola University Chicago
- 2012-2020 Consulting Coach at Various Chicagoland Area Clubs for both boys and girls volleyball
- 2016-2020 USA Volleyball High Performance Coach
Director of Boys Volleyball
I am originally from Oak Park, IL but moved out to Downers Grove when I was in grade school. I quickly found my passion for the game of volleyball at a young age as my grandmother and mom both coached at the private school that I attended while living in Oak Park. I officially started playing volleyball in 7th grade and have been either playing or coaching ever since. I was recruited to Carthage College after only playing club for two years where I was a middle, outside and right side. I transferred to Robert Morris University my sophomore year where I played alongside fellow MOD coach Kevin Luu as a right side for three years. I was fortunate enough to be named an All-American and the CCAC player of the year my senior year bringing RMU to a top 5 finish in the country all three years.
I have been coaching club volleyball since I first was able to after graduating from high school. I have coached at numerous high schools around the state, starting off with Rosary High School, Benet Academy, Loyola Academy and my current position as the Head Varsity coach at Evanston Township. This is my third year at Loyola where I see a lot of familiar MOD faces as they go through both programs. I am excited to make my return to the boys side as the new Director of Boys Volleyball as well as leading a Diversity Task Force that will be looking to reach out to underprivileged youth and to also provide more inclusion for players of all races and abilities.
Volleyball has been a huge part of my life and granted me so many opportunities to not only see the world but to meet all different kinds of people that also love the sport I do. Outside of volleyball I love to go to music festivals/ concerts and I dabble with a few video games, some of which are classics on the n64 such as Super smash, mario kart and for the PS4, COD and Overwatch.
- Sports Performance Volleyball Club – 3 yrs (15’s/16’s)
- Rosary High School – 1yr (Freshman)
- Benet Academy – 3 yrs (Freshmen, JV and Varsity Asst)
- Loyola Academy – 4 yrs (JV, Varsity Asst)
- Evanston Township High School – 1yr (Varsity)
- Division1 Volleyball Club from 2015-2020, Head Coach & Asst. Director
Director of Operations
I grew up around the southeast and landed in Arkansas for junior high and high school. I began playing volleyball in 8th grade and fell in love with the sport. I was lucky enough to have some amazing coaches and was a 4 year varsity starter in High School as well as Gatorade State Player of the year my senior season. I earned a scholarship to play at James Madison University in Virginia, where I graduated with 2 blocking records as a 4 year starter. After graduating I stayed for an additional season as the volunteer assistant on staff.
In 2015 I became a High Performance coordinator with USA Volleyball and managed the HP tryouts, summer programs, coaches clinics and served as Head of Delegation for the Youth/Junior National Teams of both boys and girls. I was able to evaluate and scout talent all across the country and develop some of the best athletes in the U16 to U21 age groups. After 4 years I took a break from volley, and was previously working in Events & Meetings at KPMG here in Chicago.
My path has provided me with a wide variety of event and operations experiences in and out of the volleyball world. I love being a part of the MOD Squad and am excited for all that we will accomplish!
- 2014 James Madison University Women’s Volunteer Assistant Coach
- 2015 – 2019 USA Volleyball High Performance Coordinator
- Created and implemented HP Tryout and Summer programming curriculum for athlete training and coach development.
- 2016 USA U18 Women’s Junior National Team Head of Delegation
- 2017 USA U16 Girls’ Junior National Team Head of Delegation
- 2018 USA U19 Men’s Junior National Team Head of Delegation
- 2017-2019 Consulting coach for various teams in Colorado Springs, CO and Chicagoland area.
Director of Communications
I grew up in the western suburb of Glen Ellyn and played multiple sports until ultimately focusing on volleyball once I reached high school. Throughout my competitive career I played mostly as a setter and opposite, training with Sports Performance and Division1 VBC. During my senior season at Glenbard West HS (’09) I had the privilege to serve as team captain.
My collegiate journey was a bit different from the norm for a club volleyball staffer, as I opted to study music at Valparaiso University in lieu of continuing to play. Looking back, that decision was a major catalyst for me to begin exploring the world of coaching, as I longed for a way to stay in touch with the sport that had given me so much over the years. While a student, I also worked part-time with the Women’s Volleyball program as a volunteer asst. and occasional practice player.
Following college I made my return to Chicago and quickly found myself immersed back in the club volleyball scene. In 2017 I accepted a full-time position at Division1 VBC and have been a part of what is now MOD’s staff ever since! Over those contemporary years I have coached teams of all ages on both the boys and girls sides of the sport, and behind the scenes I keep busy managing club communications, website maintenance, and our social media accounts.
Outside of work, music is still very much a major part of my life and I love to go see shows or expand my vinyl collection. Travel and nature photography are also some of my hobbies, so during the off-season I try to hit as many National Parks or similar trips as I can!
- 8 years of club coaching experience on both the boys & girls sides
- Notable Coaching Achievements:
- 2016, Girls 13’s: Great Lakes Power League Champions, undefeated record.
- 2018, Boys 14s: AAU Nationals 9th place finish, Silver Bracket Champions
- 4 years of experience managing club communications and developing athlete & coach resources
- 3 years of experience overseeing various club operations, including gear, travel, & event logistics.
Kirstine (KJ) Jensen
Director of Supplemental Programs
I am from Aurora, IL and have been playing and coaching competitive volleyball since I was 13 years old. I was fortunate to earn a scholarship to play volleyball in college where I competed for Ohio State and played on a team that made it to the Final Four! I spent most of my time as an outside hitter but have also been trained and competed as a middle and a right side.
I spent over 17 years coaching collegiately at Ohio University, Florida State, Northern Illinois and Northwestern, and this is my fifth year working full time in the club volleyball scene. In addition to coaching 13 Blue I also lead the 12s Elite and Regional Gyms, and work with Eunice to develop and run all Youth Programming for MOD Volleyball.
I have a 7-year old son, Jaxen who loves being in the gym and an incredibly supportive husband, Tim who supports me in doing what I love even though it takes me away from home many evenings and weekends. I feel very fortunate that I get to do what I LOVE for a living. Volleyball has been such a big and positive part of my life and I love the opportunity to be part of that in your child’s life.
Northwestern University: Evanston, IL
- Associate Head Volleyball Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, May 2012 – December 2015
- Assistant Volleyball Coach, February 2009 – May 2012
Northern Illinois University: DeKalb, IL
- Associate Head Volleyball Coach, April 2008 – February 2009
- Assistant Volleyball Coach, Northern Illinois University, March 2005 – April 2008
Florida State University: Tallahassee, FL
- Assistant Volleyball Coach, April 2003-January 2005
Ohio University: Athens, OH
- Assistant Volleyball Coach, May 2000 – April 2002
Related Professional Experience
- Assistant Coach, Club Fusion Volleyball, 2005 – 2008
- USA Volleyball High Performance A2 program, Summer 2012
- Club Director and Coach, Ohio Juniors, 2000-2002
- Volunteer Assistant Volleyball Coach, Northern Illinois University, 1997-2000
- Graduate Teaching Assistant, Exercise and Physical Education, Northern Illinois University, 1998-2000
Director of Youth Development
I Graduated from Niles West High School as a 3 sport athlete. I then attended Oakton Community College and played NJCAA Volleyball. I had the privilege to serve as team captain, and earned multiple All Tournament and All Conference awards throughout my time there.
I closed out my playing career for Robert Morris University and then began coaching with Maine South High School and Skyline Volleyball Club. While working with Skyline I served as an Asst. Director and helped to start a youth program there. I then continued on to coach with Division 1 VBC (now MOD), and now coach at Niles West High School for both the boys and girls Junior Varsity Team.
I have coached just about all age groups, and have refined my coaching philosophy through the time spent with each program. I emphasize working together as a family and developing a good work ethic at a young age. I firmly believe that playing sports at a young age helps to build confidence and character!
I’m excited to take on the Director of Youth Development role at MOD, working with KJ continue creating new opportunities for young athletes to discover and grow their love for the sport!
- 2015-2017: Coach at Maine South High School
- 2015-2019: Skyline Volleyball Club, Asst. Director
- 2017-Present: Coach for girls volleyball at Niles West High School
- Won conference in 2017, 2018, & 2019
- 2018-Present: Coach for boys volleyball at Niles West High School
- Won conference in 2018