TIGARD — For Julie Sieg, volleyball is about development.
There's the development of skills: bumping and setting; reading a defense, delivering a successful serve.
But for Sieg, a more than 20-year coach and commissioner of Catholic Youth Organization volleyball, the most crucial development is of the children she's entrusted to coach and organize.
It was CYO's commitment to kids that attracted her as a young coach when she started teaching in the Archdiocese of Portland 27 years ago.
"The CYO philosophy is the best," says Sieg, 50, who also serves on the CYO board. "It truly focuses on the development of the child instead of winning. It's more about about learning to treat your fellow athletes and yourself with respect."
Don't get it wrong; Sieg still believes in a competitive spirit.
"It's my job to show them how to compete, but not at risk of players losing out on participating," said Sieg.
A physical education teacher at St. Anthony School in Tigard, she serves CYO as both a coach and a commissioner. As a commissioner, she oversees registration, supports coaches, sets the practice schedules and answers any questions coaches may have. When Sieg started at the school there were two or three teams — now there are nine teams and close to 90 athletes participating out of St. Anthony, grades 3-8.
She has watched the overall CYO volleyball program and the one at her school bloom over the last 20-plus years, and is proud of its accomplishments. True, she says, they have taught girls the sport of volleyball, but they have also taught them life skills.
In high school Sieg was a setter for Enterprise High School and in 1980 helped lead the team to the state 1A finals against Colton.
After high school, she attended Oregon State University, continuing to play on recreational teams while studying for her teaching degree.
"Athletics have kept me active and healthy over the years," said Sieg.
After graduating, she moved to Portland and began substitute teaching. She taught at Our Lady of Sorrows School and St. Stephen School. She worked as a referee and coached at Valley Catholic for a couple of years before moving on to St. Anthony where she's been for 23 years.
Her job, her volunteer volleyball commissioner position and her coaching are "all for the youth" she says. The kids and the CYO philosophy have taught her much over the years.
A defining moment for Sieg came while coaching a game for third place in the league's City Tournament.
"I was trying too hard to win," she said. "It was time for one of the kids to go into play, due to our player rotation, but I told her to sit out, because I liked the arrangement of players on the floor — That's when the kids told me it was her turn to play. It was a real eye-opener for me — even the kids were teaching me about the CYO philosophy. That's when I realized how special this program really is."