In her 35th season as head volleyball coach for the Trinity Tigers, Julie Jenkins became just the 11th coach in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) history to record 950 career wins. Jenkins ranks third all-time in wins among Division III volleyball coaches, and after all this time she continues to feel a passion for coaching student-athletes. Jenkins looked back at her time at Trinity and talked about what keeps her going every day in this edition of Coach’s Corner.
How does it feel to be just the 11th volleyball coach in NCAA history to reach 950 career wins?
Old… it just makes me know that I’m nearing the end of my career, but I have had a lot of good players over the years, a lot of great assistant coaches, and we’ve collectively done it together. I feel lucky that I’ve been at Trinity all these years. I never thought that I’d stay at the same university for 35 years, but Trinity is a special place. I continue to be very appreciative of being here at Trinity. I know what a great school it is, and I know what a great situation that I have. When you find something as good as this place, you don’t want to leave.
I’m still very passionate about what I do, and it’s mainly because of the student-athletes. It’s just a joy to coach student-athletes that are motivated, that are bright and that are driven, and so it’s been a lot of fun. I don’t really like thinking about those numbers because it makes me sad because then I know it’s not gonna go on forever, but so far, I’ve been lucky that I have the energy to coach and give the players the level of energy that a head coach needs to give them, and as long as I can keep doing that, I’m going to keep doing it.
After 35 years coaching, what drives you to keep coming back to the court?
I’m very competitive and I like to win. I’m very driven to do the best that I can do recruiting, driven to try and keep growing as a coach, but what brings me back is the student-athletes. It’s a different make-up every year. It’s not the same team every year, and that makes it exciting and challenging to see what lies ahead, what the strengths and weaknesses are for each and every team. Here, for 2019, we’re off to a really good start. We feel like we still can keep getting better every week and we feel like the possibilities for this season are really exciting. We feel like we can accomplish whatever we want to accomplish, so what brings me back is the enjoyment of coaching.
I love coaching, and I can’t imagine not doing it, and the players are what brings you back. You enjoy watching them grow as individuals, whether it’s their level of confidence, whether it’s them as a player, it’s just a lot of fun. I can’t imagine having done anything else.
What is your most vivid memory from your time at Trinity?
Obviously making it to the Final Four twice, making it to the championship and finishing second and finishing third. Those are big memories, but you know, honestly, if I didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the journey — just day in, day out — I definitely wouldn’t have continued to do this all the years that I do it. So honestly, I know it sounds corny, but I do enjoy every day here at Trinity. I feel like you can get out of it what you choose, and I just feel like I’m still growing, and as long as I feel like I’m doing that, then you’re creating very good memories. Each day brings something new, so I can’t say it’s just one or two things that stand out.
What’s your favorite thing about the sport of volleyball?
The pace. It’s just a fast-paced game, and [the athletes’] athleticism really shows through, whether it’s their defense and just running down every single ball, or it’s how quickly they elevate off the floor and the power they’re putting behind their swings. It’s just a fast-paced, up-tempo game, and it’s exciting to watch.
What’s your favorite sports movie?
I’m not a big movie person, but I will tell you they just put out a movie that was based on one of my players’ family. It was William Hurt and Helen Hunt [acting in the film]. It just came out a year ago and it was called [“The Miracle Season”]. I had a player on my team, Catharine Found, who graduated maybe 10 years ago, but she lost a mother and a sister within 10 days of each other, and the movie was about her sister [Caroline]. She was a volleyball player, too, a high school volleyball player, so that was kind of cool that they honored Caroline’s memory in that way, and the connection to Trinity obviously made it special too.
If you could tell the world one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I think it’s important to be passionate about what you do in life and I’ve always tried to be that way.