(FREDERICTON, NB) After six years and five seasons as head coach of the UNB Varsity Reds women’s volleyball team, Jilliane Portelli is stepping aside.
Portelli has chosen to focus on her growing family.
She and her husband, Dan, are expecting their second child in August.
“We’ve decided it will work best for our family to have me stay home for a while,” said Portelli. “I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity I was given to coach at UNB and for the support I’ve been given over the years.”
Portelli took over the Varsity Reds in 2012, guiding UNB to a 7-11 finish in her first season.
In 2013-14, Portelli’s Varsity Reds finished 3rd in the Atlantic University Sport standings, earning Portelli AUS Coach of the Year honours.
The team finished 3rd once again in 2014-15.
Her Varsity Reds squad has finished in 6th place the past three seasons, including in the 2016-17 season, while Portelli was on maternity leave.
“I’m leaving an environment of professionalism, effort, and respect,” said Portelli. “I’m very proud of the team culture we’ve built and developed through recruiting the right people. The student-athletes currently on the team are some of the best I’ve ever coached. As our record this season shows, they need more time to develop, but I believe they have strong seasons ahead of them.”
“I respect Jilliane’s decision and regrettably have accepted her resignation,” said John Richard, UNB’s Director of Athletics. “I want to thank Jilliane for her dedication to the Varsity Reds over the past six years.”
“After such a distinguished career as an athlete, she has developed into a very good coach. One that is trusted by her student-athletes and someone who was putting the time into growing as a high-performance leader.”
Richard says the search for Portelli’s successor will begin in the next few weeks, with the hope of having someone in place by late May.
Portelli will stay on until a new coach is hired and assist in the transition period.
She believes that, despite their recent struggles, the team is on the verge of a breakthrough.
“We have everything in place to start winning banners here at UNB,” she said. “I hope to see some of this year’s players accomplish that feat, and I hope that they continue to foster and take pride in our culture, and to pass down strong values to incoming players. Our team has been very successful academically, and I hope to see that continue.”
The Varsity Reds last captured AUS women’s volleyball championship banners in 2010-11 and 2007-08.
UNB owns a total of 19 conference championships, second only to Dalhousie’s 23.