Arlington volleyball coach Whitney Williams directs the Eagles during a match against Shorecrest on Sept. 17, 2019 in Arlington. Williams was hired as the new volleyball coach at Everett Community College. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Arlington volleyball coach Whitney Williams directs the Eagles during a match against Shorecrest on Sept. 17, 2019 in Arlington. Williams was hired as the new volleyball coach at Everett Community College. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

New Everett CC volleyball coach aiming for culture change

Whitney Williams revived the Arlington High School program, and plans to do the same for the Trojans.

Whitney Williams has always enjoyed a good underdog story.

Ever since Williams was a kid she’s been a big fan of inspirational sports movies, the ones like Rudy or Hoosiers in which an athlete or team overcomes tremendous odds to succeed.

Williams wrote a sports success story of her own at her alma mater, taking an Arlington High School volleyball program that was in the doldrums and transforming it into a perennial power.

Now Williams is being charged with doing the same for the moribund Everett Community College volleyball team.

Williams made the difficult decision to leave an Arlington program that reached an apex less than two months ago, and now she’s taking the next step in her coaching progression with the intention of turning the Trojans around in the same way she righted the Eagles.

“It’s super exciting and obviously overwhelming,” Williams said. “I’m entering a world I haven’t been a part of as a head coach. But I’m really excited for the opportunity and I’m excited to take my coaching career to the next level.”

“We’re extremely excited to have her on board,” Everett athletic director Garet Studer said. “I think she’s going to be the spark our program needs. We have all the tools for a coach to be successful. We have tremendous support at Everett for athletics and we have one of the best facilities in (the Northwest Athletic Conference). Couple that with her personality and I think we’re going to be a top-caliber program in the very near future.”

Williams, a 2004 Arlington graduate, played for Eagles volleyball teams that were more like film’s Bad News Bears prior to the arrival of Amanda Whurlitzer and Kelly Leak, and before Morris Buttermaker started taking coaching seriously. When Williams was hired as the team’s head coach in 2014 the Eagles weren’t in any better shape, having won just 11 matches over the previous five years.

But Williams’ arrival produced immediate results. In her first season in charge Arlington finished 9-3 in Wesco 3A play and 11-6 overall. In 2016 the Eagles went 11-1 in league play to claim the Wesco 3A title and qualified for state, just the second state appearance in school history and the first in 20 years. Then this past season Arlington was a perfect 14-0 in league, returned to state, placed sixth to earn its first-ever volleyball state trophy, and Williams was named the Herald’s Volleyball Coach of the Year. Overall Arlington was 97-35 in Williams’ six seasons.

So leaving Arlington was not an easy choice for Williams.

“This was a really hard decision,” Williams said. “My time in Arlington was incredible. More than anything I wanted to give an experience to the girls that I was not able to have in high school. We weren’t a very good team, but Arlington had the athletes and resources to be amazing. I felt my connection there and thought I could make a difference. I set out to change the culture and get the girls believing they were capable of something amazing. The

first open gym after I was hired I wrote, ‘State champions,’ on the board and the girls looked at me like I was out of my mind. Now there’s a great culture where players start younger and come to camps excited. It was the craziest ride and a rewarding experience for me personally.”

What Williams finds at Everett are circumstances that are even worse than the ones she inherited at Arlington. Since the Northwest Athletic Conference began playing volleyball in 1978, the Trojans have had nearly six times as many seasons where they went winless in region play (17) than they had winning campaigns (three). It’s been just as bad in recent years, as the Trojans went 2-46 in region play and 12-106 overall the past four seasons.

Williams was first approached by Studer about the position last summer, but though Williams always had the goal of coaching in college, she decided the time wasn’t right, particularly with the high school season so close to starting. When Studer returned following the state tournament, it all felt right.

“Things in my volleyball coaching career have been serendipitous,” Williams said. “When I moved back to Arlington (in 2014, after spending four years as an assistant coach at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah) there wasn’t a job available, but a few months later the coach resigned and I was told I needed to apply. Things have lined up perfectly, and with wanting to pursue college coaching this was something I couldn’t deny.”

So what kind of coach is Everett getting?

“They’re getting somebody who is really driven,” Arlington athletic director Tom Roys said. “Whitney is incredibly organized and has incredibly detailed practice plans. She creates a great foundation in fundamentals, and she really does a good job of laying that base and building up from it.”

Williams’ time at Arlington allowed her to form relationships with area high school coaches, which both she and Studer are hoping will help with recruiting. Volleyball is also a sport in which just a handful of players can make a huge difference, so it’s possible to turn things around quickly, particularly at the two-year level where player turnover is constant.

But given Everett’s history, Williams’ biggest task is making people believe.

“I want to instill the confidence in the players that if they work hard, they’re capable of doing more than they’ve ever done before,” Williams said.

Williams has done it once before. The Trojans are hoping she can do it again.

If you have an idea for a community sports story, email Nick Patterson at npatterson@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Sports

The AquaSox' Noelvi Marte hits a double against the Spokane Indians at Funko Field on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 in Everett, Washington. The Mariners promoted Marte from Low-A Modesto to High-A Everett on Monday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Top-prospect Marte heating up in 2nd half for AquaSox

After some early struggles, the young shortstop batted .350 with three homers and 13 RBI in the past 11 games for Everett.

Washington's Steve Emtman leaves the field displaying the numberone sign after Washington's 34-14 win over Michigan in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 1, 1992. Emtman and Washington's quarterback Billy Joe Hobert were named co-MVPs of the game. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith)
The Pac-12 will never be the same — and that’s sad for many

The dismantling of the conference hurts for those that have been fans for a long, long time.

Seattle Mariners infielders react after the Mariners defeated the San Diego Padres 6-2 in a baseball game Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Mariners sweep Padres, move within 1 game of .500

Seattle beats San Diego 6-2 for its 12th win in its past 15 games.

Seattle Seahawks owner Jody Allen stands on a balcony at CenturyLink Field after she raised the 12th man flag before the team's NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Jody Allen: Seahawks, Blazers not for sale at this time

The statement came amid growing speculation about the future ownership of the teams.

FILE - Germany's assistant coach Jessica Campbell stands behind players on the German bench during the group A Hockey World Championship match between France and Germany in Helsinki, Finland, Monday May 16, 2022. The Coachella Valley Firebirds have hired Jessica Campbell as the American Hockey League’s first female assistant coach. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Kraken AHL team hires 1st female assistant in league history

Jessica Campbell will be behind the bench for the Coachella Valley Firebirds next season.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen of Everett poses with a soccer ball in front of the U.S. capitol building in Washington, D.C.. (Provided photo)
How Rep. Rick Larsen helped Seattle secure its 2026 World Cup bid

The longtime congressman isn’t solely responsible, but he played a small role in bringing the event to the Pacific Northwest.

Storm
Dream pull away in 3rd to beat Storm

Seattle never leads in a 90-76 loss to Atlanta.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox fall to Canadians

Everett musters just two hits as Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis makes a rehab appearance.

Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15
Silvertips add pair in CHL import draft

Everett selects Czechian forward Dominik Rymon with pick 57 and Swiss goalie Tim Metzger 117th overall.

Most Read