NIU welcomes Sondra Parys to Huskie country

Parys introduced as next leader of NIU volleyball


Sean Reed

NIU President Lisa Freeman, NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys and NIU Vice President and Director of Athletics and Recreation Sean Frazier hold an NIU volleyball jersey bearing the No. 7, representing Parys’ status as the Huskies’ seventh head coach in program history. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB – Standing at the podium in front of the crowd gathered at Victor E. Court during her first appearance as the new head coach of NIU volleyball on Tuesday, Sondra Parys shared a brief moment with her father, Joe.

“I know you’ve always wanted me to be a Huskie, and it maybe took a little bit longer to get here, but today’s the day,” Parys said. “It finally came true.”

Parys was officially introduced as the seventh head coach in NIU volleyball history in front of a crowd at Victor E. Court on Tuesday. NIU hired Parys, who was previously an assistant coach at Loyola University Chicago, to fill the program’s coaching vacancy on Dec. 15.

NIU President Lisa Freeman and NIU Vice President and Director of Athletics and Recreation Sean Frazier welcomed Parys to Huskie country with opening remarks at Tuesday’s event.

“This is truly a great day for us,” Frazier said. “Today we usher in the Parys head coaching era. Coach Parys is a passionate leader who has been successful as a student-athlete, assistant coach, has been involved with championship-level programs for most of her career. We’re excited about the future and having coach Parys leading our program.”

Frazier highlighted key points of emphasis in NIU’s coaching search: finding a candidate that was passionate, focused on student-athlete development and intent on reestablishing NIU’s championship culture.

“As we got through this process, it was clear…that this was the stop for her (Parys),” Frazier said.

Parys took the podium, thanking her family and the members of the NIU community in attendance as well as her former players, coaches and colleagues.

“It’s an amazing opportunity at an amazing institution,” Parys said. “It’s a privilege to call myself a Huskie.”

Recalling one of her first memories at NIU during her playing career, Parys name-dropped the University of Toledo, her alma mater and one of NIU’s rivals in the Mid-American Conference.

“I was told not to talk too much about Toledo here but that is what I am,” Parys said. “I was a Rocket.”

Parys went on to describe her connections to NIU. Sondra’s father, Joe, was a member of the 1981-1982 men’s basketball team that was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. Her mother, Lori, also attended NIU and was a cheerleader.

“It became even more clear to me that I have a huge piece of my heart here because of the foundation that was set,” Parys said.

Parys also thanked her colleagues from her stints at Loyola University Chicago, Prairie Ridge High School and Club Fusion.

Parys concluded her address by going off-script to thank the NIU volleyball players in attendance.

“I can already tell that this special group believes that they can win,” Parys said. “They are ambitious, they are excited to build the relationships and I believe that they’re ready to get to work.”

Parys described the fast-moving hiring process as a “whirlwind,” saying she has been “non-stop” and has “huge dreams” for NIU volleyball.

“(I have) dreams so big I have been losing sleep,” Parys said.

Parys will have the rest of the offseason to prepare for her first official season at the helm of NIU volleyball in Fall 2023.