One of the greatest female athletes in school history, Jennifer Wildes (formerly Olson) took over as head coach of the Eagles womens volleyball program in 2005. Not surprisingly, Wildes has led the Eagles program to the same kind of success she enjoyed as a student-athlete. Not surprisingly, Wildes has led the Eagles program to the same kind of success she enjoyed as a student-athlete.
In her first year as the Eagles head coach in 2005, Wildes won the final championship of the now-defunct Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference (NIIC). The 2005 Eagles went 24-14 and had four players named to the All-NIIC volleyball squad and also garnered the leagues Player of the Year award (Jessica Tuchowski). Since the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference was established in 2006, Wildes has coached 27 All-Conference players and led Benedictine to two regular season NACC Championships (2009 and 2012). Under Wildes, Benedictine has made the conference tournament in each year except for one and has won the tournament twice in 2006 and 2012. The 2012 season was the most successful season for the Eagles under Wildes. The team went 30-5 overall and 11-1 in conference play, winning a share of the NACC regular season title. The 2012 team would go on to win the NACC Tournament Championship to make Benedictine's first NCAA tournament appearence since the 2004 season. This marked Wildes first appearence in the NCAA tournament as head coach. This team included five All-Conference players and one All-American.
As a collegian, Wildes was a four-year starter (1998-2002) in both volleyball and basketball at Benedictine, earning all-NIIC honors four times in both sports. She was the NIIC volleyball Player of the Year three times (1999, 2000, 2001) and NIIC womens basketball Player of the Year for the 1999-2000 season. That year, she was also named Benedictines female Athlete of the Year. The Eagles won four straight NIIC volleyball crowns during Wildes career and the 2001 squad which finished with a 37-7 record made an NCAA Tournament appearance. On the basketball court, Wildes was a major contributor to four winning teams, including one that made the NCAA tournament. She still ranks as the Eagles all-time leading rebounder (1,161) and is second in career scoring (1,563 points).
A Deans List student at Benedictine, Wildes was a member of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was the business departments Management and Organizational Behavior Student of the Year as a senior. She also earned all-scholastic honors and College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District accolades in 2001.
After earning her bachelors degree in management and organizational behavior from Benedictine in 2002, Wildes was an assistant volleyball coach at Illinois Wesleyan University in 2003 and spent two years as a graduate assistant in the Office for Compliance at Illinois State University, where she earned a masters degree in sports management in 2004.
Wildes is a native of Sterling, Ill., and graduated from Newman Central Catholic High School.