Stepping in to the role of head volleyball coach at Olympia High is no easy task, given the impact the program’s previous coach — Mitch Sadowsky — had during his nine seasons at the helm.
However, new Titans head coach Julianne Dougherty Calcote is embracing the challenge.
“I’m kind of excited to fill that role, being in this new position,” Calcote said June 6, a couple of hours before her first open gym with her new team.
Calcote comes to Olympia with plenty of experience — as a player and as a coach. A 2008 graduate of Timber Creek High in east Orange County, Calcote helped the Wolves reach the FHSAA Class 6A State Championship in 2006 as a junior and was First Team All-State performer as a senior in 2007 — racking up 385 digs, 250 kills and 45 aces that fall.
“It’s really exciting for me to be in those environments and take what I’ve learned from that atmosphere and apply it to the high-school level.”
In college, Calcote played indoor and beach volleyball for Webber International University and was a standout in both.
Following her playing career, Calcote got into coaching, and for the last five years, she has been an assistant for the indoor program at her alma mater and also Webber’s head coach for its beach program.
During that time, both programs experienced plenty of success. The Webber indoor program has won consecutive conference championships and the beach program has won back-to-back AVCA Small College National Championships. In addition to her duties with her beach program, Calcote had roles focused on recruiting and scouting opponents for the indoor program, among other duties.
Calcote said she loved her time at Webber but the commute — she and her husband live in Orlando, and the Webber campus is roughly an hour-and-one-half’s drive south in Polk County — took its toll.
So, when the job at Olympia became available, it was a perfect fit.
“I’ve always known Olympia to be a phenomenal school,” Calcote said. “It’s really exciting for me to be in those environments and now take what I’ve learned from that atmosphere and apply it to the high-school level.”
“I’m very into setting the bar, as far as culture goes — I’m very big into character."
The new coach for the Titans said she is excited to inherit a team that made it to the FHSAA Class 9A State Semifinals last fall and is returning several players from that roster. As far as what fans can expect from the program under her tutelage, Calcote plans to focus on aspects she and her players will be able to control, such as culture and character.
“I’m very into setting the bar, as far as culture goes — I’m very big into character,” Calcote said. “I’m also very big on energy and effort — those are the two controllables that you can control when it comes to the game.”
In addition to taking over a program with plenty of talent, Calcote confirmed she and the staff she assembles may look into further growing the volleyball program at Olympia by considering ways to incorporate the beach game.
“The beach game is one of the fastest-growing NCAA sports in the country,” Calcote said. “Trying to get it developed here is something we’re trying to look forward to do in the spring.”
Preseason practice for the 2018 volleyball season begins July 30, with preseason games taking place as early as August 13. Calcote will debut as the head coach for Olympia when the regular season begins play the week of Aug. 20.