MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When it comes to your career, you typically work your way up, right?
Well, imagine finishing college, and stepping in Day One to your first job as the boss.
That’s what one exceptional tennis player, now coach, is doing at Hamline University.
It’d be easy to show up at a Hamline tennis match and mistake Julia Courter for one of the players.
After all, she was one pretty recently.
Courter graduated from college less than a year ago this past spring, and three months later was hired at Hamline in the fall — just a couple weeks after her 25th birthday, going straight from athlete to coach —- head coach, in fact, of both the men’s and women’s teams. Throwing both arms around the challenge.
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Courter is one of the youngest head coaches in the country. And, even rarer, one of the few women to be a head coach of a men’s team.
“I’m always one of those people who’s going to take situations, and going to find a solution,” Courter said. “And learning personalities, like, whoa. It’s hard to be on a team with personalities, but then coaching personalities, it’s like, did that just happen? And so it’s like, OK, that happened, and now we’re going to move forward and we’re going to try and figure this out.”
Courter was a tennis star in college for the Gophers from her freshman year on — at one time ranked as high as 34th in the country — and finishing her career ranked in the top 10 in school history in wins at both singles and doubles.
The allure of staying in the Twin Cities was strong, but the opportunity to run her own program right off the bat was even stronger.
“When I came on campus at Hamline — I had other interviews and other job offers,” Courter said, “and I was like, I want this one.”
At 25, Courter is older than your typical recent college grad. She took a gap year between high school and college — which lasted an extra year longer because of an injury and a medical redshirt. But still, being a head coach for the first time, at such a young age, when it’s your very first job, throws you its share of curveballs.
She says leaning on mentors has been invaluable, as she learns the job on the job.
“I have had so many chats with former coaches, like, wow, I never even knew you had to plan for this,” she said. “Just being around people who taught me, be an adult, and be organized and responsible. And it was just like, ready to go. And of course, I’m still catching up, learning things. The coaches at Hamline, (have been) such a great support system. It’s just amazing, all the support, Courter said.
She’s excited about the road ahead — the chance to make the same kind of mark she did as a player, as a coach.
“I’m really, really happy,” Courter said, “that I took this job.”