In 2001 she led the Destin Marlin volleyball team to its first undefeated season — culminating in an Okaloosa County Championship.
Katie Liufau Davies is back and ready to lead out again — this time as head coach.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Davies said Monday morning as she sat in her new classroom at Destin Middle School.
“Once it (volleyball) is in your blood you’ve just got to go back to it at some point,” she said.
And Davies reached that point when Destin Middle Athletic Director Daniel Griffin made the call.
She had expressed an interest in helping with the volleyball program, but when the coaching slot became available due to a staff move, she jumped at the chance.
“We’re proud to bring one of our own back home,” Griffin said.
“Katie naturally knows and understands things about this school and this program that takes people years to understand,” he said.
“Katie is Destin Middle School. She is a huge part of its history. She will bring that history and expectations with her to grow the program,” Griffin said.
“It was a no-brainer,” Griffin said, to offer her the slot.
Davies got her start in volleyball at Destin Middle, and then went on to play volleyball at Fort Walton Beach High all four years.
“In middle school I was a middle hitter,” she said.
However her freshman year at FWB, the coach moved her to the setter position which she learned to love.
After graduation, she moved on to Gainesville and the University of Florida.
“It was my life-long dream just to be a Gator,” she said.
While at UF she played club volleyball.
“Club volleyball was fun because we got to travel to other college campuses and play other teams,” she said.
“Club was the perfect spot for me. I got to kind of fill my volleyball bucket.”
Davies graduated from UF with a masters in education and is entering her eighth year of teaching.
She taught a couple of years down south, before putting in a five-year stint at Butler Elementary in South Walton.
At Destin Middle, Davies will be teaching fifth-grade language arts and social studies.
Over the summer, Davies had about 40 girls between summer camp and open gym.
Tryouts for the volleyball team will take place next week with the first game slated for Aug. 27 at Liza Jackson in Fort Walton Beach.
“I have some good girls to choose from ... lots of young ones” she said.
“But that’s good because I’m the one that gets to teach them the fundamentals.
“In middle school that’s a lot of what it is — the fundamentals. I tell my girls I don’t want to send anyone to high school with bad habits. No bad habits, that’s the goal,” she said.
In addition to being coach, she’s also teacher.
“It’s kind of weird being back,” she said.
“There are still some teachers that are here when I was here. Now they are my colleagues ... which is fun and nice,” she said.
“It’s nice coming back to a place that you’re familiar with but in a different role,” she said.