Julia Kearney ‘20 Exercise Science and Sport Management
Julia Kearney ’20 likes a good challenge.
The assistant director of RecFit and Recreation in St. Johnsbury, she’s also the lead personal trainer there. Julia started working at RecFit during her third year as a dual major in Exercise Science and Sport Management, as she also juggled coaching softball at Lyndon and later as head coach for the Twinfield (Plainfield, Vt.) high school varsity softball team.
Her latest challenge? Becoming the first female football coach in Vermont.
The director of RecFit is also the head coach of the varsity football team at St. Johnsbury Academy. Every day Julia asks him, “Anything else you need me to do?” One day he replied, “Yeah, go coach football for me.” Taking it as a joke, she replied, “Yeah, let’s go!” and left it at that. A week later, he told her he wasn’t joking and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
It’s been a big learning curve, Julia said, and she dug into “Football 101” from April until the season started to learn as much as she could before getting on the field with the players. “It’s a lot of fun, and I’m learning something new every single day. All the different plays are like a chess match, and the mental side of the game is pretty interesting.”
Julia played high school softball and her experience with her own coach, who remains a role model today, is what drew her to coaching. Injuries ended her softball career at NVU early, so in addition to building relationships with youth her goal is to help prevent that from happening to other student-athletes, too.
Being the state’s first female football coach has been “pretty cool,” she says. An advocate for women in sports, Julia started out playing baseball and only switched to softball when she was kicked out of baseball because she’s a girl. “Being able to be a role model for my cousins and kids in the community has been great, and there are even two girls on the St. Johnsbury football team this year!”
Julia’s dual degree prepared her for both the exercise science and business aspects of her career. “The exercise science faculty are fantastic,” she said, and she keeps in contact with her professors who encourage her to reach for help and to get new ideas for clients she works with as a trainer. The business faculty are really supportive, too, she says, and the dual degree was a great foundation for running the business side of RecFit and in her role as trainer.
A Massachusetts native, Julia has firmly planted her roots in the Northeast Kingdom now. “My work and my boss at RecFit is a big part of the reason I stayed in the area after graduation,” she said. Instead of returning to her hometown, her parents have moved to St. Johnsbury to be with her!