Chelmsford Valley senior Katie Coulis needs 25-hour days
Katie Coulis doesn’t question who she is. She knows she is passionate about academics, sports and her school.
There is no question she would do anything to ensure success in all three. Her drive is unquestioned.
The 17-year-old Chelmsford Valley District Composite School student was living in Azilda when the school year started last September. Her family moved to Capreol in October.
Coulis didn’t even hesitate when it came to transferring to another school near her new home. She wouldn’t have been able to compete in sports this season if she had and she believed it would hurt her chances at earning a volleyball scholarship. So, she stayed at Chelmsford Valley.
It is where her heart and purpose is. But easy, it was not.
Each day, Coulis is up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 6:45 a.m. bus. It's not until after class that her day gets interesting.
Not only does she compete in multiple sports, but Coulis also stepped up to coach the junior girls’ volleyball and basketball teams this season after reaction to Bill 115 saw teachers withdraw from extracurricular activities in protest.
It makes for long, hard days. Three to four times a week, Coulis rides a city bus home — she has no other choice. After staying late to compete in games and coach, it’s a three-hour bus ride that gets her home by 11 p.m. Then, she hits the books to hold onto an 85 average.
Coulis has given up a lot to stay a member of the Chelmsford Flyers athletic program. She wouldn’t dare do it any other way.
“It’s how I am,” the Grade 12 student said. “I’m driven and motivated. It’s how I’ve been forever. I know I have drive for what I do, so I push for my limits.”
Coulis’ heart is in the right place. She doesn’t mind spending her free time — most of her time — being involved at school, competing and coaching. When she heard the junior girls’ basketball and volleyball teams could not play this school year for lack of a coach, Coulis took up the challenge.
I’m driven and motivated. It’s how I’ve been forever. I know I have drive for what I do, so I push for my limits.
Chelmsford Valley District Composite School student
Her impact has been undeniable. She coached the junior volleyball team to first place and the playoffs in Division II, earning a 7-2 record. And she did this while also competing on the senior team and helping them make the playoffs in fourth place and win a first-round playoff series.
“I live for volleyball,” Coulis said. “I have the heart for basketball. I didn’t think it was fair for the junior teams to be started and not get the chance to play. Someone had to step up and coach.
“I have a lot of pride for my school. My coaches and teachers pushed me to my potential and I want to give back and motivate other students to play and to their best potential.”
Coulis has proven her loyalties to the Flyers and the school. She has been driven and determined to make a difference since Grade 9. Teacher and coach Glen Murray knew Coulis was a motivated kid after her first month of high school.
That month, she racked up the 40 hours of community service required to graduate. Coulis has also sacrificed working part-time jobs to compete and coach.
Murray doesn’t sugar-coat it. Coulis is the main reason the school had junior girls basketball and volleyball at all, he said.
“I knew it would have crushed us if she left,” Murray said. “She is dependable, dedicated, works hard and is a good leader. She re-arranged her whole life to stay at Chelmsford.
“You rarely get a student athlete like Katie.”
When it comes to competing, Murray points to Coulis' conditioning and intensity as the key elements that make her an elite athlete. When she gets on the court, especially basketball, it’s all business.
She plays hard and makes herself a difficult opponent to like. Asked if her intensity angers opponents, Coulis merely shrugs — she doesn’t know any other way to compete. There will be no apologies.
“I’m rough. I’m not scared to give or take a hit,” she said. “I can be intense. I’ve always been that way.”
While she brings her passion to the court, Coulis brings her compassion to coaching.
Ielish Gervais, 15, is a member of the Flyers junior girls volleyball team. She said Coulis has been a positive force in the lives of the players. She's a role model.
“What she goes through to do what she does, it is inspirational,” Gervais said.
“We know she cares about us and this is her school and she wants to make us proud. She is always there for us. She’s rocking it.”