Julia Warner, left, joins her father John’s Lee volleyball team this season as an assistant coach. Julia was a standout for the Wildcats before playing at Westfield State. (Howard Herman / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
LEE — The Lee High School junior varsity volleyball coach put her team through its paces on Monday — the first full day of post-cut practice.
“I can totally see myself sitting here, years ago,” said Julia Warner, daughter of Wildcats coach John Warner. “I was in eighth grade and he was my coach.
“I can see the nerves on all the girls that I felt all those years ago. I can see myself sitting [in the bleachers], but now I’m standing up here.”
Julia Warner, who graduated from Westfield State University in 2014, will be the first junior varsity coach and varsity assistant that John Warner has had in a while.
“It’s kind of a new experience for me,” he said, “since this is the first JV coach I’ve had in about eight years. She was quite a player in her own right and she just graduated from Westfield, so she brings a lot of collegiate knowledge to the fray here.
“I’m only a couple of days into this process. I’ll let you know how it works out.”
Julia Warner’s college résumé includes three years as an All-MASCAC selection. She was a two-year captain for the Owls, after having been an All-Eagle MVP and a Wildcat multi-sport standout.
She was a double major at Westfield and earned her degree in movement science and mathematics. She’ll be student-teaching in the math department at Lee.
“I had hoped to come here and I had hoped my dad would accept me, because it’s his territory,” Julia Warner said with a laugh. “He’s letting the leash go a little bit.”
John Warner has a JV coach on his staff, but he quickly added that she could take the next step up as well.
“Julia could take over the varsity program at this point,” her father said. “She knows the game as well as a lot of the coaches.
“We’ve gone over lineups and some coaching philosophies. It’s been interesting to say the least.”
The Wildcat varsity coach said that having another coach around can only help the JV team and the varsity team.
“We do separate practices always and initially, I’ll be present for all of them,” he said. “It does allow me to put a lot more preparation into the varsity program at this point.”
At a meeting following Monday’s practice, John put a little bit of pressure on his daughter and her charges, telling them that the Lee junior varsity has not lost in three seasons.
The Wildcats have full rosters on the varsity and JV levels. There are 13 players on the varsity team and 12 more on the junior varsity. Julia Warner said that her experience on Coach C Court at the high school, and at Westfield State, has helped prepare her to jump into a coaching tenure with both feet.
“I’ve learned a lot from my dad. I’ve learned a lot from all the coaches I’ve had and at Westfield again for those four years,” she said with a smile. “I’ve picked up a few things here and there. Hopefully, I’ll be of assistance. He’ll use me somehow, even if it’s just to get his coffee.”
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