After coaching the Lady ’Canes volleyball team for a total of 17 years, state championship winner Laura Watling is leaving Marian Central.

Watling began her journey at Marian at age 19 when she signed on as assistant coach. Nine years later, in 2009, she moved to head coach. 

Under her coaching, Marian took home a state championship in Class 3A in 2015. The team also earned two second-place and one third-place finish in 3A state finals and captured eight regional, six sectional and four super-sectional championships. 

Though Watling says each year at Marian has brought fantastic memories, a few stand out above the rest. 

“One of my favorite memories would be the first time we defeated St. Francis in our gym back in 2010. That year was also our first time making it to the final four. Those are moments I’ll never forget. I’ll also always remember the time my girls started a dance battle with Marian Catholic and New Trier two years ago. That was the absolute greatest,” she said.

Watling announced her reason for leaving is a job change for her husband that will move the family to Colorado. She intends to continue her passion for coaching, which she says is too much a part of her to ever abandon.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for him and our family,” she said. 

Watling has left big shoes to fill and her advice to whomever steps up is to keep it simple at first. 

“Don’t try to change too much because that will only overwhelm you. Be yourself and stay confident when it comes to coaching,” she said. 

Athletic Director Curtis Price described Watling as one of the most successful coaches in school history. Her impressive coaching record stands at 243-80 as head coach. In 2016, she was named the Suburban Catholic Conference Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year. 

“We will miss Coach Watling’s hard work and dedication to Marian Central. Her positive influence on our student-athletes will be hard to replace. Marian Central would like to thank coach Watling and wish her nothing but the best as she moves on to the next phase of her life,” Price wrote in an email.

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