Lillibridge returns to coach Jackson

Suzi Lillibridge has traveled back to the future.

Lillibridge is the new head volleyball coach at Jackson High School, although “new” is a bit misleading. She was the program’s first coach back when the Mill Creek school opened about 11 years ago.

Lillibridge, 51, coached Jackson for five years before starting the volleyball program at Heatherwood Middle School and becoming an assistant at Jackson.

Lillibridge takes over for Amy Riesinger, who left Jackson to coach Lake Stevens.

“Originally, I had planned to not apply,” said Lillibridge, who led Jackson to Class 3A state tournament appearances in 1996 and 1997. “But I realized I was the best candidate and I needed to step up.”

Robert Polk, Everett School District athletic director, said Lillibridge’s people skills and experience are ideal.

“She has a great rapport with kids,” Polk said. “She’s able to establish very strong relationships while holding high standards for kids. She’s been in the business for a long time.”

“She’s a great professional in education,” Polk added. “All the good things we look for in coaches and educators, she possesses those traits.”

Jackson advanced to the 4A state tourney last fall as the No. 3 seed from District 1. The team lost several talented seniors to graduation, but Lillibridge said Jackson has plenty of talent returning. One reason for optimism: the Timberwolves’ junior varsity team was undefeated in 2004.

“I’ve got high hopes for the group coming up,” Lillibridge said. “It’s a strong JV group, and then we’ve got some seniors that will play some pretty crucial roles.”

Lillibridge will evaluate her players this week as Jackson conducts its summer volleyball camp, which runs through Thursday at the high school.

Lillibridge also has a significant baseball connection. She is the aunt of Brent Lillibridge, a Jackson High graduate who played for the University of Washington and was drafted in June by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Suzi Lillibridge said she takes credit for her nephew’s success on the diamond.

“I started him in baseball. I’m not going to give credit to my brother!” she said, laughing.

McCracken headed to Northwest University: Samantha McCracken, a 2005 graduate of Jackson High, accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Northwest University in Kirkland. McCracken, a 5-foot-11 forward, averaged 16.6 points per game her senior year to lead the Western Conference South Division.

“Sam is an impact player. The bottom line is that the girl can score,” Northwest University coach Lori Napier said in a statement announcing McCracken’s signing on the school’s Web site.

Added Napier, “Sam is a huge key in helping our team play at a higher level next year.”

Northwest University is a NAIA Division II program that competes in the Cascade Conference.

Waller to play football for Air Force: Bryce Waller, a 2005 graduate of Oak Harbor High, will play football for United States Air Force Prep School. Waller is a 6-foot-3, 245-pound offensive lineman who also played basketball and baseball at Oak Harbor.

Miller ready to contribute: John Ondriezek said offensive lineman Chris Miller could make an immediate impact on the Western Washington University football team. Ondriezek, who coached Miller at Mariner High, believes Miller could start for WWU as a true freshman.

“He’s gotten bigger, stronger, faster. He’s extremely motivated. He’s everything that you want in an athlete,” Ondriezek said earlier this month of the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Miller. “He’s going to put in the time in the offseason…and he’s extremely coachable.”

Miller, who played in the East-West All-Star Football Game earlier this month, expects to play either center or guard for Western. He’ll give his all either way, but the center position holds a special place in his heart.

“I pretty much did fall in love with (playing center),” said Miller, who moved to guard his senior year at Mariner. “There’s nothing better. You get to hit a guy without getting called for it.”

Marysville School District physicals: Sports physicals for Marysville School District students entering grades 7-12 will be offered 4-8 p.m. Aug. 16 at the M-P High School gymnasium. The cost is $40 and proceeds go toward scholarships for the M-P Male and Female Scholar Athletes of the Year. Beginning Aug. 1, call 360-653-7058 to make an appointment.

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