The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

From the Dance Floor to the Playing Field: All-Star Coach Julie Primero Redefines Coaching Excellence

Multi-sport+coach+Julie+Primero+and+girls%E2%80%99+lacrosse+huddle+to+discuss+strengths+and+weaknesses+from+their+last+game+as+well+as+new+strategies+to+implement+in+their+upcoming+matches.+%E2%80%9CCoach+Primero+is+a+really+hands-on+coach%2C%E2%80%9D+lacrosse+player+and+sophomore+Isabelle+Borrison+said.+%E2%80%9CShe+loves+to+get+involved+with+us+and+show+us+exactly+what+were+doing+wrong.+She+watches+our+form+and+footsteps+and+gets+little+details+that+you+wouldn%E2%80%99t+see+if+you+were+watching+the+game.%E2%80%9D
Kelly Yeh
Multi-sport coach Julie Primero and girls’ lacrosse huddle to discuss strengths and weaknesses from their last game as well as new strategies to implement in their upcoming matches. “Coach Primero is a really hands-on coach,” lacrosse player and sophomore Isabelle Borrison said. “She loves to get involved with us and show us exactly what we’re doing wrong. She watches our form and footsteps and gets little details that you wouldn’t see if you were watching the game.”

While most coaches specialize in one sport, former dance teacher, physical education teacher, head girls’ lacrosse coach, head girls’ flag football coach and JV girls’ basketball coach Julie Primero is a jack of all trades, making her a vital part of Portola High’s sports community. 

Since childhood, Primero has enjoyed playing sports, from basketball to volleyball. While her children were in elementary school, she became a part-time physical education instructor at Northwood Elementary, discovering her love for teaching. This season, her primary focus is guiding the girls’ lacrosse teams, a role she pursued after witnessing her daughter’s remarkable growth through lacrosse, according to Primero. 

“It’s kind of funny because [lacrosse] is kind of a mix of flag and basketball,” Primero said. “I’m on the turf but it’s very similar to basketball, and because it’s a new sport, I learn with the girls. It’s fun to jump in, and I’m not great, but it’s fun to play.”

Coaching for multiple sports can present struggles as each individual athlete has different needs. However, over time, Primero has grown more comfortable balancing her workload, especially by looking to other coaches for inspiration. Additionally, Primero, who developed an interest in dance after participating in cultural dances at UCI and watching dance competitions, has been able to explore this interest by teaching Dance 1 last year. 

“It’s just a matter of making time for everything,” Primero said. “The biggest thing is putting one foot forward, so doing one thing at a time and not looking at the big picture helps a lot.”

She understands everyone differently, as a player, as a student or just a person in general,” Owens said. “I can talk to her as a player, but [we also have] that type of relationship that’s different from just being an athlete and a coach.

— Matti Owens

As a child, Primero’s coaches held high expectations for her, which spurred improvement in her as an athlete. Consequently, Primero’s coaching philosophy emphasizes perseverance, even in times where she gives her players constructive criticism. 

“We’ve been used to having coaches that weren’t as strict as her because we just do stuff differently from our past coaches,” girls’ lacrosse captain and junior Matti Owens said. “She lets us put our own ideas, through her coaching or our practices sometimes and on the games, and she trusts us to do what we think is best.” 

In addition to Primero’s ability to balance discipline and flexibility, she is also great at fostering team spirit. Sophomore Isabelle Borrison had Primero as a dance teacher and coach for flag football and lacrosse, enjoying the experience across all three sports.

“She gives really good pep talks before games when we’re all in a huddle,” Borrison said. “Even on the sideline, she’s really encouraging. She’s cheering you on, and you’ll hear her yelling players’ names and coaching from the sidelines.” 

Ultimately, Primero is a coach who is deeply respected and loved by many players, whether they have experienced her guidance across multiple sports or have been taught by her as a former dance or physical education teacher.

“She understands everyone differently, as a player, as a student or just a person in general,” Owens said. “I can talk to her as a player, but [we also have] that type of relationship that’s different from just being an athlete and a coach.”

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About the Contributors
Sky Nguyen, Staff Writer
Sky Nguyen is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. She recently found her love for creative writing again which inspired her to join the paper. Outside of this, you can see her performing and swinging on a set of silks over twenty feet. Occasionally she is closer to the ground while using a hammock, hoop, trapeze. She also loves to procrastinate studying by playing games while listening to Wave to Earth or looking at reels and finding another nearby restaurant to try with her mom.
Kelly Yeh, Staff Writer
Kelly Yeh is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. This year, she is thrilled to share inspiring and captivating stories with her fellow Bulldogs through her work. When she is not busy stressing over school deadlines or annoying her dog, you can find her obsessing over new shows, adding to her Spotify playlists, or finding new cafes to study at with friends.
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