NEWS, NOTES & COMMENTARY
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
By Bethany Bradsher
Torbett aims to change
(ECU Media Relations
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Julie Torbett has been sitting
right behind the bench to witness each of the five national titles won by
her alma mater. As a former Penn State player, she was immersed in each
championship victory and embraced a volleyball dynasty that she helped
It’s that unyielding drive
that Torbett brings to an East Carolina volleyball program desperately in
need of a confidence infusion. With just six total wins over the last three
seasons, the Pirates are welcoming Torbett and her commitment to the
reinvention of the ECU volleyball program.
“I’m well aware of the
record,” said Torbett, who was named the new head coach on Feb. 5. “They
didn’t hide that from me. They brought me in so that I would make some
changes, and we’re going to make some changes that you’re going to see in
how we do things on the court, how we conduct ourselves.”
Torbett holds firmly to the
Vince Lombardi maxim that “Winning is a habit.”
Unfortunately, she said,
losing can also be habit-forming, and she means to institute a three-pronged
emphasis of work ethic, competitive drive and loyalty that will create the
kind of climate hospitable to victory. She doesn’t pretend that turning the
tide will be easy, she said, but she knows it can be done.
“If they’ll do those things
we’re going to win more than two matches,” she said. “I think we’ve got to
get into a habit of winning. And that’s not going to be easy. I’m not a
magician. I’m not going to wave a magic wand and all of a sudden, we’re
good. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”
As the head coach at UNC-Asheville
for 17 years — she was named to that position when she was only 24 — and two
seasons at Winthrop, Torbett became the winningest coach in Big South
history with two Big South Coach of the Year selections and three regular
season conference titles.
At East Carolina, she has the
chance to be an architect, a role she embraces.
The team has only had a few
practices together so far, and Torbett is still in the early stages of
assessing the team’s strengths and weaknesses. But she has so emphasized
those three chief values — work ethic, competitiveness and loyalty — that
the Pirate players have already teased her that they plan to get them
tattooed on their bodies.
For players like Nicole
Willis, a junior right side hitter from Raleigh who looks to be one of the
offensive sparks of the team, the key to thriving during the transition is
laying aside pre-existing ideas about how to do things and letting their new
coach take the reins.
“I know a lot of us have been
given a lot of different ways to do things with regards to techniques and
how to play the game,” said Willis, who transferred to ECU last year from
LSU. “But for her to implement her new program, we have to buy in 100
percent, and if we don’t we’re going to suffer the consequences for it.
"I think we’re all so eager
just to learn something new and something positive it’ll go off without a
With the deep loyalty and
school spirit of Penn State in her background, Torbett has been encouraged
at the enthusiasm of the Pirate Nation, particularly when she learned that
every one of the returning players who came in under previous coach Pati
Rolf intended to stay at ECU.
“None of them bailed,” she
said. “When you have players that love to be here and really enjoy their
university, my job is to train them to know how to play volleyball and to
bring in even better players in the future that will make this a stronger
Outside hitter Hannah Allgood,
one of seven seniors on the squad, said that Coach Torbett has emphasized
her own principles but has also taken the time to listen to her players and
understand their backgrounds and their dreams for the team. With just one
year left to wear a Pirate jersey, Allgood and her fellow seniors welcome a
“We want to be able to go out
and say we gave it our all, and even though it’s our last year we’re going
to work hard so that the classes below us can also carry out a winning
tradition,” Allgood said.
Torbett will have a more
accurate picture of her team and its potential after playing a slate of
spring scrimmages that include matches against N.C. State, Duke, Elon and
Winthrop. And as she continues to collect advice from her former head coach
Russ Rose and his dominant Penn State program, she will pour all that she
can into the Pirates who hope to follow her into a brighter future.
“I’m a fighter,” she said. “I
just absolutely do not ever think that I’m going to go into a match and
lose. So they will garner some of that strength from me, and that winning
attitude from me. I’m hoping that will give them some confidence, that
there’s going to be a change and they’re going to win matches next year.”
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