Penn State — Cradle for Coaches: Julie Firth Torbett

The third in a series on Penn State Women’s Volleyball players who moved into coaching after their playing careers were over.

Julie Firth Torbett

To understand what makes Julie Firth Torbett a successful coach, listen to her dad, Tom Firth:

“She just refused to lose.”

Tom Firth should know — he was Julie’s high school coach in volleyball and track. Tom narrates the following video, which commemorated Julie’s induction into the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame (click to start, then when the screen goes black, click on the underlined “Watch on YouTube”):

In a November 19, 2008 interview in the Westfield Republican, Julie credits her dad for motivating her to succeed:

“My dad was a really hard coach. . . .He was harder on me than anyone else. It helped me be a very tough coach, which has helped bring me success.” (Go to the complete article — it’s an excellent read).

And Russ Rose? “He was a great coach. He taught me everything I know,” Julie told Penn State’s Daily Collegian, in a Sept. 7, 2001 interview.

Rose was equally complimentary when Julie was hired by UNC Ashville, as reflected in these quotes from the UNC Ashville Official Athletic Site:

“I am proud to have had a small part in the development of Julie Torbett into the successful volleyball coach at UNC Asheville. . . . Her committment to being the best she could in both academics and athletics were evident when she was a high school athlete and it continued through her college years. The university community and its athletes are especially fortunate to have Julie directing their programs, and I would continue to expect great things from her into the future.”

As UNC Asheville’s head volleyball coach, Julie hasn’t disappointed. Since being named head coach in 1994 (following one year as an assistant coach) her teams have a record of 230-203 (she is the school’s all-time winningest coach) and have never finished lower than fifth in the Big South Conference. In 2002, when UNC Ashville defied the experts by winning its first Big South Conference regular-season championship in 10 years after being the preseason pick to finish last in the league, Julie was named the Big South Conference Coach of the Year.

Tom Firth summed it up like this: “She is serious. She set high goals.” And she refuses to lose.