When she played basketball, softball and baseball growing up in Randolph, Julia Goyette’s father, Kevin, was a constant presence at her youth games.
A natural teacher, Kevin helped his daughter learn the nuances of those sports and improve as a player. He balanced his work as a labor attorney to coach Julia’s teams, expanding his parental support and involvement to become the Little League president in Randolph.
But when Julia enrolled at Ursuline as a seventh-grader, and was inspired to try out for volleyball, it forced Kevin to expand his horizons and learn a sport he knew virtually nothing about by sitting and watching his daughter play and become the school’s season record-holder for digs and kills.
“There are some people who just are the definition of a coach and he’s filled that role perfectly,” Julia said. “He has a real gift for analyzing a situation and being able to explain it to anyone.”
But when it came to volleyball, however, Kevin Goyette initially was at a loss.
‘This is a bonding experience that keeps us together.’
Julia Goyette, Ursuline's assistant volleyball and softball coach, on coaching with her father, Kevin, at her alma mater
Initially, he handled statistics for the varsity. Then he seized upon an opportunity to coach the middle school team in 2012. Then he worked his way to the varsity in 2017 when head coach Eric Neely stepped down to focus on coaching at Babson.
“I had gone to practice and I said, ‘Look, I don’t know much about volleyball, but I’ve been a softball coach for 10 years and if you need any help, let me know.’” he said.
Although he never coached his daughter in volleyball at Ursuline, Kevin turned to Julia in 2018 after her graduation from Assumption University, where she played collegiately, and enlisted her help as a junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant.
“To coach a sport that I love, with my father, at my alma mater, it couldn’t be any better,” said Julia , who followed her father’s footsteps by attending New England Law in Boston, graduating in 2021 and working as an associate general counsel at Phia Group LLC. “I am incredibly grateful because a lot of people when they grow up, they become so separated from their family, but this is a bonding experience that keeps us together.”
It didn’t take long for them to adjust to their coaching dynamic, which Julia described as “Good cop, bad cop.” Julia explained that she she breaks down technical aspects to push players, while her father brings wisdom and motivation.
“They kind of flip the switch when it’s their team,” said Ella Cusson, a sophomore volleyball and softball player. “I’m on JV and a varsity swing [player]. So I kind of get to see both [approaches]. The level of intensity and sternness when it’s their team is a change of pace and the attention to detail is key.”
Things kicked into gear during the Fall 2 season in 2021 when Ursuline went undefeated (12-0) in winning the Catholic Conference title—although both had to watch the championship-clinching game from their couch due to COVID-19.
Roughly 70 players tried out for Ursuline’s seventh grade through varsity volleyball teams, all ranging in different skill and experience levels. Cusson had never played volleyball entering her freshman year, but the Goyettes’ diligence helped her growth in the sport.
“All they ask of you is that you give 100 percent effort and try your best,” Cusson said. “They really took me under their wing, and just had so much patience. Their commitment to players makes you want to contribute more.”
The Bears, 13-1 and undefeated in conference play, are led by a senior-laden roster that will graduate 11. To Julia Goyette, it’s a class that ranks as the first she has watched grow from her first year as a coach.
“They hold a very special place in my heart,” she said. “They are just such a positive and supportive group. There isn’t any one player who isn’t doing all that she can for the benefit of the team.”
Even though both work full-time as attorneys, the Goyettes added to their coaching responsibilities this year at Ursuline, taking on the softball program.
“Taking the personal time out of their personal lives to be so dedicated to all of us, especially two seasons out of the entire year is a lot,” Cusson said. “I think it’s really inspirational to see that they are so committed to developing us as athletes and people.”
“They’ve been real assets to the athletic program,” AD Mike O’Connor said.
▪ Lynnfield senior outside hitter Ella Gizmunt eclipsed 1,000 career kills in Tuesday’s Cape Ann sweep over North Reading Tuesday.
A member of the varsity since her freshman year, Gizmunt entered the match with 994 kills. She recorded the milestone on the fourth point of the second set.
“As soon as she hit it, [the team] ran onto the court to the point where the ref almost couldn’t call the timeout fast enough. It was just organic,” said Lynnfield coach Brent Ashley.
Ashley had to “hold her back” in the team’s match at Masconomet, in which she tallied 31 kills across five sets.
“I can’t tell her to stop,” added the coach. “It got to a point where I was like, ‘Ella, can you try not to get more than 30?’” Gizmunt has multiple Division 1 college offers, according to Ashley.
▪ Barnstable dropped its first match of the season in a five-set loss to Westborough, a Division 2 finalist last fall.
“There’s no place to hide in Division 1,” Barnstable coach Tom Turco said. “There are eight to 10 teams I think could win this whole thing. When you get into a match like that, you know that it’s going to test your team’s mettle.”
Barnstable won the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-21, before dropping the last three, 25-19, 26-24, and 15-4.
“We know that we can play at that level,” Turco said. “So the two takeaways are that we can compete with anybody, and we need to finish things.”
Games to watch
Monday, No. 1 Newton North at No. 8 Needham, 4:30 p.m. — The 2021 Division 1 state finalists square off for the second time this season: North took the Sept. 20 clash, in a rematch of last year’s final.
Monday, No. 2 King Phillip at No. 12 Attleboro, 5:15 p.m. — The Warriors (13-1) host league rival Attleboro (12-1) Monday night for a Hockomock showdown.
Monday, No. 20 Revere hosts Archbishop Williams, 5:30 p.m. — The undefeated Patriots (16-0) will host the Bishops (5-7) in a nonleague matchup.
Thursday, No. 7 Newburyport hosts No. 14 Lynnfield, 5:30 p.m. — The Clippers (10-1) will host the Pioneers (11-2) Thursday in a Cape Ann clash.
Friday, No. 5 Barnstable at No. 14 Dennis Yarmouth, 5 p.m. — The Red Hawks (10-1) journey down Route 6 for take on D-Y (11-2) in a Cape & Islands matchup.
Correspondent Sarah Barber contributed to this story.
Tyler Foy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Tyler__Foy.