SPORTS | November 29, 2021
Coach Justin Parra now Leads Both Boys and Girls Volleyball Teams at Young
Whitney Young High School’s volleyball program has regained its prominence with a new leader in charge of its future. Head coach Justin Parra solely coached the Dolphins boys team over the past five seasons, but he was asked to pull double-duty and take the lead with the girls team this year as well.
“It was an interesting situation to begin this season coaching the girls – in a good way. I can’t say enough about the athletes and how accepting they were to me,” Parra said.
It took some time, but the team began to click midway through the season. The Dolphins finished the year with a record of 27-8 overall and an undefeated 10-0 mark in Chicago Public League (CPL) conference play to advance to the CPL city championships. Their matchup against Jones College Prep in the title game was decided in two sets (25-10, 25-11) and Whitney Young was crowned CPL Champions in mid-October.
“From day one I understood the talent we had on this team, and I knew we could go further than just the City Championships,” Parra admitted.
That talent was on display in the IHSA Class 4A state championships led by Ohio State University bound senior Chelsea T. who amassed 280 kills on the season, and Jordan W. (Cornell University commit and senior transfer this season) chipped in with 268 kills to finish second on the team. These two Division I college volleyball recruits were the catalysts that led the team to the regional championship. The Dolphins beat Oak Park River Forest in three sets (23-25, 25-23, 25-14) for the regional title to advance to sectional play.
The sectional bracket placed Whitney Young against Mother McAuley – a perennial state contender – and the Dolphins gave them all they could handle before falling in an exciting three-set match (25-19, 23-25, 25-13) to close out their season. While it was a tough end to a promising year, Thorpe was proud of her team’s accomplishments, and knew just how integral Coach Parra was to their success.
“We’ve had a lot of transition in my four years at Whitney Young and Coach Parra was just what we needed this year,” Chelsea explained. “He encouraged me to be a team leader and helped me to develop the mental aspects and competitive culture in my game. We knew this could be a special season for us and we gave it our all and came up a bit short.”
Other players who contributed to Coach Parra’s successful debut as girls’ volleyball coach were junior setter Ava S. (top ten in assists in Class 4A state play), and junior Bella E. (third on the team in kills with 144).
Moving forward, the future of Whitney Young volleyball is in good hands as Coach Parra returns to coach both teams again in 2022. He has become adept at juggling his responsibilities with hard work, dedication and a great love for the sport that is translated effectively to his players.
“We had a lot of trust building and relationship building but through it all we had a lot of fun,” Parra concluded. “We became an upper-echelon team that could compete with the best teams in the state at the end of the year.”