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NIU grad named boys volleyball coach at St. Charles East

Kate McCullagh already had been running St. Charles East boys volleyball camp this month. Now she has the corresponding title to boot.

East athletic director Jerry Krieg elevated the former Saints assistant to head coach on Friday, a move that should only subtly change the demeanor in the gym when workouts resume Monday night.

"If anything, I think I'll feel a little more confident walking in," McCullagh said. "It had even gotten to the point that I didn't know how to introduce myself."

East players should know McCullagh well. The one-time middle blocker and Mid-American Conference MVP at Northern Illinois assisted the boys and girls programs last season and is the second East assistant to become a head coach in as many days.

Rob Livermore officially took over the boys tennis program from recently retired Sena Drawer on Thursday.

McCullagh, 24, replaces Stephanie Gooden, who accepted the DeKalb girls job in April and later decided to leave East. Gooden lives a short walk from DeKalb High School and had grown weary of the long commute, a factor McCullagh decided to be proactive with. She moved to St. Charles shortly after graduating from NIU in 2008 when she learned she would be student teaching at East.

Her first experiences with starting practices came when Gooden was caught in traffic this spring.

"Nobody had a better resume than Kate did," Krieg said. "She had already been doubling up a little bit and had some responsibilities, and we're glad to bring her on."

Krieg offered to supervise boys camps during the hiring process but ultimately put the decision on McCullagh's shoulders late last month.

"Who knows how he would have done," McCullagh said. "I figured he was just kind of joking around."

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