The Coach-Athlete Connection header

The connection between a team and its coach can be a special bond.

Julie Gaul, Head Coach of Carlow's Volleyball TeamJulie Gaul, who joined the Celtic coaching staff in 1993, will begin her 16th season as volleyball head coach this fall. She has sought to build an environment where her players can thrive. 

“As a player, I felt that I could step onto the court and make something happen,” she says. “As a coach, I try to create an environment where the players feel safe and supported in finding their own style of play, so they’re confident when they step on the court.”

This year’s Celtics team exuded confidence: at the USCAA tournament, Carlow upset the teams seeded numbers two and three on the first day of the tourney.

“That was the best that we’d ever competed at that level,” Gaul says. “It was really good volleyball and something that the team will remember forever! Everyone knew they had witnessed something special.” Gaul also lauds the excellent time management skills and academic strength of Carlow’s volleyball team members—eight of whom were named USCAA Academic All- Americans this year.

Gaul knows firsthand the hectic lifestyle of a busy student athlete. While at the University of Pittsburgh, she helped lead the women’s volleyball team to their first Big East Championship—and was also named Big East MVP.

“We did an unprecedented nine-day tour of California and Hawaii, playing 13 matches against the best teams on the west coast—including then national champs, the University of Hawaii,” she recalls. “To step onto the court and play against some of the best players in the world is something I will never forget.”

Today, in addition to serving as head volleyball coach, Gaul also is the director of Wellness and Fitness Services at Carlow and is working to further the university’s new Healthy Carlow 2020 initiative. She knows what a difference the coach-athlete connection can make—a relationship she was reminded of in 2004 when she was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

“At the induction ceremony, I was able to publicly thank my high school coach and gym teacher, Penny Cox. Without her, many of the opportunities that I had wouldn’t have existed.” 

Her sentiments reflect those of the student-athletes she coaches today— students like Carly Bonk ’16.

“Coach Gaul was such an integral part of my journey here at Carlow,” says Bonk, a communications graduate. “She provided me with unlimited resources and was available to help anytime I needed her. I cannot thank her enough for everything that she has done for me.”

by Drew Wilson