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A Mom Mans the Helm of Darien Hoops Team

Julie Whiting breaks the mold. She’s the coach of the Heat team in the Darien YMCA house basketball league, the team on which her twin sons Jackson and Pierce play.

The boys are high school sophomores, and this is the second year Julie has coached them in the Y’s league. She also coached for three years in younger grades, coached baseball for five years and coached her daughter, Courtney, in basketball and softball.

In the old boys’ network of coaching, Whiting is a breath of fresh air. Most coaches, of both boys and girls teams, are men. While some women coach their daughters’ teams in youth sports, few take on the challenge of coaching boys.  When Whiting’s boys asked her to coach, she happily agreed.

“My boys are used to me, and they know I love sports,’’ Julie says. “When the other boys on the team find out a women is coaching them, they’re like, ‘Hmmm.’ After a little while, they get on board.”

It helps that Julie knows what she’s doing. She played field hockey, basketball and tennis in high school, earned a college scholarship to play field hockey and started coaching when she was a high school senior. She’s still plays tennis, paddle tennis and golf. Coaching gives her another sports outlet.

“I enjoy seeing the kids improve and gain confidence,’’ Julie says. “I like it when they see that they can do it. Team sports are so great because you learn how to work with other people. I’ve always wanted to coach a sport after school if I [could] make it work.”

Julie is a calm presence on the sidelines, rarely leaving her seat or questioning an official’s call. She runs team practices -- “I make them do layups, they’re you’re bread and butter,’’ she says, adding that she wouldn’t mind sticking around even after her sons are done playing.

“Coaching little kids vs. adolescent boys is very different,’’ Julie says. “The younger kids really look up to you. You never know what you’re going to get with the older boys. At this age, you can see there’s a lot of testosterone.”

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