Julie Darty lives in Starkville, Mississippi, and is the head volleyball coach at Mississippi State University. She played volleyball for Mercer all four years of college and graduated in 2008 with a communications degree.
Here are five things to know about Darty:
1. Mercer was a household name in her family.
Darty grew up near Orlando in Oviedo, Florida. Her parents and aunt went to Mercer, so it was a common topic in her house. She knew she had a great place to go if she decided on Mercer, and it ended up being the right fit for her.
“I felt like Mercer was a place where I could be a big fish in a small pond,” she said. “Everything felt right with me when I was in Mercer and Macon. It felt really comfortable.”
2. An injury led her to coaching.
“My sophomore year, an injury put me on the sidelines for a little while, and that’s when I got a different perspective on the game and … realized I wanted to go into coaching,” she said.
She volunteered in volleyball camps that summer to get experience in the field. Her senior year, she searched and applied for coaching jobs and kept putting her name out there until she found someone who would take a chance on her. That opportunity came from Villanova Head Coach Josh Steinbach, whom she calls her “forever mentor” and still calls for advice to this day.
3. She has found her dream job.
After two years as assistant volleyball coach at Villanova, Darty was hired as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina. Then, she spent four seasons as head coach at Jacksonville University before taking the job at Mississippi State in January 2018.
“My ultimate long-term goal was to be a head coach in the SEC, and that’s where I am now,” she said. “At this point, I want to be at Mississippi State and sustain something special here until I’m ready to retire. I know I can stay here the rest of my coaching career. That’s what I want to do. I love it so much.”
4. Mercer prepared her for the next level.
Public speaking and communications classes at Mercer taught her the skills she needed for the recruiting and media aspects of her career. Connecting with players and talking in front of crowds are the easy parts of her job.
In addition, playing at Mercer prepared her to be an assistant coach at Jacksonville since the two schools are similar, she said. She knew the level she was coaching in and the type of student-athlete she was recruiting.
5. Relationships matter more to her than wins or losses.
Obviously, Darty loves the sport of volleyball, but she always reminds her players that their lives are not defined by their games. What’s been most important to her in her career is maintaining communication with players, even after they graduate, and being there to support them in their futures.
“The stuff that’s off the courts, having these relationships with these young student-athletes that turn into my friends, that’s the part that matters to me most. I just want to make sure they know I care about them as people first,” she said.