A mindset Melissa Kampmann helps to establish in female soccer players is also one for approaching life: Be a leader and practice good sportsmanship.
“Sports is really a microcosm of what life is all about,” said Kampmann, trust and estate planning attorney with Ruder Ware, SC.
The Wausau transplant invests significant time in establishing that in female soccer playerss participating in the MC United Soccer Club of Wausau. Kampmann’s involvement in coaching dates back seven years — paralleling her daughter’s participation — and includes spending the past three years on MC United’s board of directors as well. Soccer consumes a significant amount of Kampmann’s time all year, with a small break between November and February, although there’s winter training as well. High times are from March until the end of June and then again August to November.
“It’s about soccer and the kids, but it’s not just about them,” she said. “It’s about how the club can benefit the community. We talk about how our tournaments can bring more people into the community, be an economic driver, and look at ways to expand the ways we do that.”
Visiting teams obviously stay in local accommodations, dine in local restaurants and visit other local facilities.
During her tenure as coach, Kampmann has coached everything from eight-year-olds to high schoolers as one of the few female coaches coaching female or male soccer players.
“I want to show them that women can be in leadership positions and break gender stereotypes,” she said. “I want the kids to believe they can be a leader in anything they do, be it sports, theater, music or business. Women can be — and should be — at the table and bring a different perspective.”
To give the players a future-focus, not only for soccer, but life, she and other coaches had the players participate in a process through which each set goals and values for themselves. “We encourage them to do this self-work and to be well-rounded people, doing things in the community whether it’s volunteering, band or other leadership,” she said.
It’s about everybody else, helping to make someone else’s life better. Everybody can give back in some shape or form.
— Melissa Kampmann, attorney,
On a personal level, Kampmann has asserted her leadership skills through her role as board member and distributions committee member for the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. The committee meets quarterly to determine how to distribute funds to other nonprofits in Marathon County; the board focuses on the strategic vision of the organization in the community.
“I’ve always wanted to be on their board because the Community Foundation makes a lot of things happen in the county,” she said. “They make sure we are living in a community we want to live in whether that’s the 400 Block downtown that they were instrumental in, YMCA projects, the Boys & Girls Club or many smaller nonprofits. We’re a resource for these nonprofits to make the community a better place.”
Kampmann finds serving on the board both fulfilling and energizing because it also provides an inside view of what’s happening in the community. “Nonprofits approach us with the newest projects and activities they want to see, and it’s so much fun to see what people are coming up with to make this community an even better place,” she said. “We are a really fortunate community to have so many different people pushing for enhancements, and I love to be a part of it.”
That’s complemented by her role on the Woodson YMCA board of directors, a role she’s held since 2017. Kampmann is a huge supporter of not only the physical benefits of the exercise and activity people can find at the local YMCA but also the benefits to their social and emotional well-being.
Two years ago, the YMCA opened a facility called The Landing for ages 55 and older as a destination for them to gather and have a sense of community, something she was very supportive of.
On the other end of the spectrum, she looks at the quality childcare program as fundamental to the community’s children having social, emotional and physical well-being.
“It’s very important to me to make sure that anybody who wants to take advantage of the Y and its programs can,” she said. “For me, it’s how do we get this valuable resource available to everybody?”
Kampmann’s other involvement including serving as secretary for the Paul and Ruth Schultz Foundation, board member of St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, board member of the Northcentral Technical College Foundation Inc. and as an advocate, volunteer and speaker for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Upon reflection, Kampmann credits a parent volunteer at her high school with putting her on the volunteerism track. That parent started a volunteer organization at the school and taught the value of giving back to the community.
“It was small — odds and ends such as working at a food pantry or nursing home to bring smiles,” she said, but that led Kampmann to become a Big Sister through college when she lived in the Madison area and then continuing the momentum when she moved to the Wausau community for her role with Ruder Ware.
“Ruder Ware is known for giving back and there is an expectation there, but I would have regardless,” she said. “It’s part of who I am and how I was raised: to give to others.”
Kampmann has involved her family in volunteering; both her daughters, Makenna and Brynn, are involved in Rise Up in creating murals around the community, have volunteered with soccer clinics and worked with soccer for children with disabilities.
Her daughters also volunteer alongside Kampmann through walks and fundraisers to benefit JDRF as all three have type 1 diabetes.
One of the lessons she has tried to emulate for her daughters is that life is “not about us,” she said.”It’s about everybody else, helping to make someone else’s life better. Everybody can give back in some shape or form.”