Julie Wiejak enters her third season as the Purdue Northwest head volleyball coach, after coaching the previous two seasons for Purdue Calumet.
The Pride entered their first season in NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season. Wiejak led PNW to their NCAA Division II victory with a 3-2 win against Shippensburg and their first GLIAC victory with a 3-1 against Northwood.
During the first season as head coach of the Pride, Wiejak propelled the Pride to an 18-16 record, her best record as head coach in the past three seasons. Wiejak led the Black and Gold to a 10-9 record in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and saw many players receive post-season accolades.
Junior Gabrielle Martin received AVCA All-Region, NAIA-Scholar Athlete and CCAC First Team honors while Brooke Ahrens received CCAC Freshman of the Year accolades under the leadership of Wiejak.
During the 2015-16 campaign, Wiejak led the Peregrines to a school-record 11 wins overall, while also winning five Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference matches, also a school record.
Wiejak had three players earn CCAC All-Academic Honors, Samantha Basar, Hannah Kelly and Gabrielle Martin, while seniors Basar and Kelly each were named NAIA Scholar-Athletes. Martin, also earned her second straight second-team All-CCAC award.
The Peregrine squad also received the CCAC Champions of Character Team Award, which goes to the program who reaches out and best serves their community.
After the Peregrines broke 17 program records in the 2014-15 season, the Black and Gold would continue to strive and set higher standards while re-breaking those records. Those marks included kills (1,227), kills per set (10.7), attack percentage (.162), assists per set (9.9), service aces (235), block assists (248), digs (1,660) and total blocks (171.0)
In her first year at the helm in 2014, Wiejak led the Peregrines to 10 victories, doubling the team's win total from the previous year and setting multiple program records which were later broken in the 2015 season.
Highlights from the season included a big home-opening sweep over rival Indiana Northwest, a strong 3-1 win over a talented Rochester College squad, and a 3-0 sweep on the road over league rival Calumet College of St. Joseph. Freshman Gabrielle Martin earned all-Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Second-Team honors under Wiejak's leadership and the team featured four all-CCAC Academic Selections and one NAIA Daktronics Scholar-Athlete in Christina Colon.
Wiejak came to Purdue Northwest from Andrean High School where she spent three years at the helm of the girl’s volleyball program. She compiled an impressive 85-22 record, while leading the 59ers to the first two IHSAA Semi-State appearances in program history. At Andrean, she coached seven all-conference selections, five all-area honorees and one NWI Times All-Area Player of the Year in Ana Nicksic. Wiejak also served as the head coach of the St. Patrick’s (Ill.) boy’s volleyball coach the past two seasons, leading the team within a game of the state tournament in 2012 and 2013.
In addition to her high school coaching duties, Wiejak is active in the club volleyball ranks. She spent three years as the director of the Southshore Volleyball Club, while also serving the director of coaching development and fundraising for Powerhouse Sports Academy, the parent organization of SSVBC as well as Powerhouse VBC, Club 1 VBC, and Hardcross VBC.
Prior to her time at Andrean, Wiejak served as the top assistant at her alma mater, Loyola, for four seasons, where she worked primarily with the Ramblers’ middle blockers. During her time on the Loyola bench, Wiejak's teaching was proven to be instrumental in the development of several record-setting Loyola middles. Under her watch, Mallory Curran broke the school's career record for block assists, becoming the first Loyola player to break the 300-block assist plateau. Melissa Craig also set new school records during Wiejak’s tenure, eclipsing the top marks for blocks in a match and block assists in a season.
Her coaching experience also includes a six-year stint as an assistant coach at DePaul. While in Lincoln Park, she involved with all aspects of the Blue Demons’ program, helping guide the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001.
Wiejak was also the director of the Great Lakes Region High Performance Program, an extension of the governing body of USA Volleyball, coordinating camps and competitions while also handling the business and financial aspects of the program for the seven years it existed. In 2005, for her efforts within the USAâ€ˆVolleyball community, Wiejak was given the Robert L. Lindsay Meritorious Service Award, which recognizes individuals for contributing outstanding participation, motivation, and other services in the promotion of volleyball.
A member of the Positive Coaching Alliance, Wiejak was named one of organization’s the Top 50 Double Goal coaches in the nation. She was also nominated for Indiana’s 2011 AVCA National High School Coach of the Year, while being selected to the “Top 20 under the age of 40” class of 2012 by Northwest Indiana Times Business Magazine.
Wiejak had an impressive career at Loyola as a middle blocker, racking up 678 kills and 297 total blocks. She set a single-season record with 135 blocks as a junior, before notching notching 342 kills and 125 blocks en route to First Team All-MCC and MCC Tournament MVP honors as a senior. The Bishop Noll product led the Ramblers to the 1999 MCC title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Chicago native earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing from Loyola in 2001. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in business communications from DePaul in 2006. Still active as a player on the beach in the summer, Wiejak recently earned professional status from sandvolleyball.com and also participates in Extreme Volleyball Professional (EVP)â€ˆtour events.
*Note: Records include seasons 2010-2014, when the program was reintroduced after being discontinued in the 1990s.
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