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Friday, February 26, 2021

Inseparable sisters bring family atmosphere to Western volleyball

Calley and Camden Heilborn look to continue Diane Flick-Williams’ championship tradition 

Sisters Calley and Camden Heilborn (from left to right) pose for a picture after a Western volleyball game. Freshman Camden Heilborn will be joining her sister in uniform for the Vikings next season.

By Aidan Gaffney

The Heilborns are a household name when it comes to Auburn Riverside High School women’s volleyball. Calley, Camden and Carson Heilborn dominated their high school’s volleyball program over a span of eight years under Head Coach Chris Leverenz.

“I’ve been blessed by coaching a lot of very talented athletes and had a very successful program,” Leverenz said. “But Calley, Camden and all Heilborns just make the coaching life a little bit easier. Some of the most respectful, hard working and thoughtful young ladies that I’ve ever coached.”

Western volleyball Head Coach Diane Flick-Williams was no stranger to the Heilborns, either; She recruited their older sister, Carson Heilborn, in high school.

“I have always been impressed with their entire family,” Flick-Williams said. “We went down to talk with Carson one time and Camden and Calley were coming home from school, and I noticed how much they like being around each other.

“It’s a very special family to be a part of, and we are lucky to have two of them on our team.”

Carson Heilborn ended up at the University of New Mexico, but Calley Heilborn, a redshirt sophomore, was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and First Team All-GNAC in her freshman campaign at Western. This year she is joined by Camden Heilborn, who earned First Team All-State honors in high school.

“I decided between a couple schools, but when I came on my visit here and talked with Diane, who I already knew is such a great human being, I realized I wanted to come to Western,” Calley Heilborn said.

Camden Heilborn, the youngest, said she was always set on coming to Western, and it helped knowing her older sister experienced an effortless transition out of high school.

“I always loved Bellingham, and when Calley started getting recruited, she would tell me how amazing it is,” Camden said. “Calley would say how similar the program is to Auburn Riverside, just a level up, of course. At this point, I was set that this is where I wanted to be.” 

Flick-Williams’ system requires incoming freshmen to use their redshirt season, meaning they do not play in their first year. She said it gives freshmen a more relaxed time to adjust to academics, college life and to the rigors of training.

Calley Heilborn said she plans to major in behavioral neuroscience. Camden Heilborn said she is still deciding on her field, but plans to pursue a master’s degree, since she will be at Western for five years. 

The Heilborns bring distinct qualities to their teams.

“They go above and beyond what their coach asks their players on a daily basis, which made coaching fun,” Leverenz said. “They have this unique bond, and I think having that on a team helped the rest of the team feed off of their energy, creating a family atmosphere.”

Flick-Williams noticed the same virtues.

“They have an infectious personality that has a really good combination of intensity,” she said. “They end up being the kind of people you want to be around as teammates and are fiercely competitive. So, it lends itself for a great combination of student athletes who want to compete but also have a good time doing it.”

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