June 15, 2012
DeKALB, Ill. - Former Lakeland College (Sheboygan, Wis.) standout Joe Julkowski joined the Northern Illinois University volleyball program as an assistant coach, NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden announced Friday. The Carol Stream, Ill., native puts the Huskie staff back at full strength as the Huskies are doing their summer training in preparation of the upcoming 2012 season that starts in August.
"It's exciting to get our staff up to full speed now," said Gooden, the 2011 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year. "Having the addition of Joe just compliments our group. We are excited to have him. He has a great presence about him, works really hard, and comes in with head coaching experience, which helps our group. He's going to be a great asset not only to the players but to the program and department as well.
"We plan on having him be a big contributor in the gym, help run practices and do things on the tech side with scouting and other training tools. His main focus will be in the gym. He will also help out on the road recruiting and be our director of camps."
For Julkowski, the job provides him with a chance to return to his home state and move from the NCAA Division III level to Division I at a place where he is familiar with.
"I have a friend who is an NIU alum who said a lot of good things about Ray and knew [Assistant Coach] Lynnette [Moster]," said Julkowski. "Immediately, I was already drawn because of the coaching staff. I hope to get great experience from them and bring different things to the table.
"Secondly, my brother graduated from Northern. I love the campus and atmosphere -- love the state school atmosphere. I came from a school that was smaller so it's great to have this big atmosphere but still have a hometown feel."
Prior to his arrival at NIU, Julkowski spent the last six years at Lakeland College with the men's collegiate club volleyball team. From 2006-10 as a player, he was the catalyst of Lakeland's four straight Wisconsin Volleyball Conference (WVC) championships. Not only did Julkowski have the Muskies in the Wisconsin spotlight, he had them in the national mix. In 2008, the Muskies went all the way to the top, winning the their first National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) Division I national championship over Illinois. It wasn't just a one-year wonder either, as the Muskies fell in the national finals in 2007 and 2010 and were national semi-finalists in 2009.
A stellar playing career at Lakeland left Julkowski as a three-time NCVF All-American, two-time WVC MVP, and four-time all-conference performer. He holds the program records for kills (1,905) and aces (271) in a career.
As soon as his playing days as a Muskie were over, Julkowski quickly made the transition to coaching and served as a graduate assistant coach for the program in 2011. Lakeland finished with an 18-27 record, 8-10 in conference, and had a first round exit from the NCVF National Championships.
A year later, Julkowski was named head coach and guided the Muskies to a 22-24 mark, 6-7 in conference, and led them to the NCVF quarterfinals. Doing this all while being responsible for every aspect of team management, including recruiting, travel, scheduling, budgeting, equipment and apparel, fundraising, academic eligibility, study hall supervision, and all aspects of practice and game management.
"I'm hoping to make an impact on everyone I come across," Julkowski said. "I know the girls, Ray, and Lynnette will have an impact on me. I just want to have an impact on them, on their careers and lives. I also want to win but not at the expense of an education. NIU volleyball wins and does it in the classroom too. Both are important to me and I want to do it the right way. One of my goals is to help get this program past the NCAA second round. We want to win the MAC and keep pushing from there."
The 25-year-old Julkowski graduated from Lakeland in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and is a product of Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream.