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The Champion’s Coach

We live in a competitive world. Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passions in life and strive to be better every single day. Whether you have a love for art, sports, or interpretive dance, the profound effort you put into something you love controls your future triumphs. For Cody Liner, sophomore and student assistant coach for women’s volleyball, dedicating himself to working and aiding in the success of a team is that distinct passion.

Growing up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Liner began playing both club and high school volleyball at the age of 14. By the time he was 17, he was playing for a more advanced team with older players that had already led his previous team to a National Tournament. When his senior year came around, Liner injured himself and was unable to finish out the season, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from being a part of the game. A previous club coach of his had the idea of Liner becoming his coaching assistant, and right away, Liner accepted the offer. “Getting injured was a big sorrow, but you have to cherish the moments you have, I had gained a ton of leadership abilities throughout my years of playing and was finally able to put it to use coaching seventeen-year-olds at the age of eighteen,” Liner said.

When it came to applying to colleges and searching for a university where he felt he would succeed, UT was not his first choice until looking on the volleyball roster and seeing that the program offered a student assistant coaching job. After emailing head coach Chris Catanach about it, Liner came on a campus tour at UT right before an interview at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale for the same position. “UT was a very spur of the moment decision, it was the last school I applied to and the first one I was accepted to on a scholarship and to be honest, I had no intentions of coming here until I saw the coaching position,” Liner said, “I came here before visiting Nova and after I left, I didn’t even want to bother going, I fell in love with the campus and coach and decided to come here and pursue being a student assistant.”

Jumping right into the start of the season as a freshman, his role consisted of doing most of the dirty work. From setting up the nets to mopping the court and keeping stats, the year focused on him learning the basics and getting a grip of what the program was all about. Returning to the job his sophomore year,, Liner received a surprising promotion from Catanach. “One day coach and I were walking back to the office together and he looked at me and said ‘How would you feel about being director of operations’ so I accepted and took on being both the director of operations and student assistant,” Liner said. Involving a lot more responsibilities, Liner was now in charge of everything including pregame setup at games, score sheets, cameras, setting up the clock and making sure the visiting team knew where to go. He also began using the team’s new advanced stat system called Data Base. Assistant coach, Brian Imperiale, called out plays, Liner would put them in the system. When traveling to away games, he made sure all of the equipment was packed, all of the jerseys were ready, scheduled reservations at restaurants in the location and made sure everyone was aware of times and schedules.

Liner came to UT to pursue a sports management major and also decided to double minor in marketing and business. With his extensive position on the team along with his involvement in other campus organizations such as the Leadership Fellows Program and Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity,  time management was key. Coming from a quiet home life with his mother in Virginia, his busy schedule was a major transition, but he commends the volleyball team and staff for making it enjoyable regardless of the constant hustle: “These girls are my sisters. This team and these coaches are my family away from home,” Liner said. “This job has helped me mature a lot. Even though I was the new guy I had to learn quickly, but I love what I do and at the end of the day volleyball always comes first.”

With the help of his newfound family here at UT, Liner was able to be apart of an exciting achievement this past semester when the women’s volleyball team won the Division II National Championships on Dec. 6, which just happened to be Liner’s nineteenth birthday as well. “It’s funny because when I woke up that morning, my birthday was honestly in the back of mind,”Liner said.“It felt like a championship day. Berkely Whaley scored the winning kill to bring us to a 25-21 victory in a ‘perfect five.’ We would practice the perfect five drill all the time during practice and it came through in the championship which was awesome. That moment of excitement was something you can’t make up.”

At only 19-years-old and now a part of a national championship program, Liner is nowhere near done striving towards even more future accomplishments. With a more relaxed off-season spring semester, he is now able to have more time to himself and work towards his goals. As far as his next few years at UT and beyond, Liner has a profound passion to want to get better. “I want to be a better coach and I want to learn more about the game and be dedicated to volleyball,” Liner said, “I would love to come back to UT as a graduate assistant after my senior year, but I also want to see different aspects of other coaches and programs so I can adopt my own philosophy of coaching after learning what I have here, because in the end, a coach’s own philosophy is what is important and what helps a team win.”        

Regina Gonzalez can be reached at

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