STUDENT PROFILE SERIES
Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
DUDLEY – One of the reasons that the Shepherd Hill girls’ volleyball team became so successful, to the point where they put together an outstanding 15-4 playoff team this past season, was the dedication of the players to the program.
Senior co-captain Julie Priessler was one of those dedicated players who played four years of volleyball and has helped put the relatively new sport on the map for the Rams.
What is even more impressive is that while she was excelling in volleyball and also being a key contributor on the girls’ varsity basketball team, Priessler maintained a high enough grade point average to rank her in the top five of her class.
Priessler grew up in Dudley, living with her parents Kathy and John and her brothers Anthony and Jonathan. She attended St. Louis school in Webster from kindergarten to the eighth grade and participated in Dudley town soccer and basketball leagues because she always liked sports.
Upon finishing her time at St. Louis, she decided to attend Shepherd Hill and knew it would be an adjustment coming from smaller classrooms at a small Webster school.
“It was weird coming into a new school at first, I knew some girls who I played soccer with, but it was still all new to me coming to such a big school,” said Priessler.
She wasted no time getting into her schoolwork and getting good grades, but she also found a new interest that would occupy her every fall sports season. She “liked volleyball right away.”
She credits her coach Tom Caffelle for helping her get into the flow so quickly and becoming an excellent volleyball player. “I loved coach Caffelle. He didn’t just teach us volleyball, he taught us about sportsmanship and effort.”
That great sportsmanship, leadership, and effort she was learning was something that her teammates picked up on and eventually earned her the nod as co-captain of the team.
“Julie was a great leader and role model for everyone on the team on and off the court,” said teammate Danielle Watkins. “She became such a great outside hitter and I had so much fun playing with her and growing as a player all four years of high school.”
Priessler also played a key reserve role on the varsity basketball team the last two seasons and developed some good bonds with her teammates there as well. One of those teammates and close friends, JoJo L’Heureux, enjoyed playing two sports with her and had much praise for her friend.
"Jules is one of my best friends and I honestly don’t know what I'd do without her,” said L’Heureux. “On the volleyball court, she was always encouraging and cheering, no matter what the score was. She was the best all around player on the team. She was always so consistent and strong in her passing, hitting, and serving.”
“Not only is Jules an incredible teammate, but also a great friend who I can always count on,” said L’Heureux. “She's such an intelligent, warm, funny, and kind-hearted person. Jules adds so much to my life with her warm and genuine personality and I'm going to miss playing alongside of her more than anything. Her laugh instantly brightens up the room and once she starts, it’s hard for her to stop."
Her basketball teammate Taylor Daniels echoed L’Heureux’s words about Priessler. “We played basketball against each other for several years before high school and we were on the same youth soccer team for a while so when she ended up coming to Shepherd Hill that was a change because we all knew her. Then she started playing basketball with us. This year, she was first off the bench and a big contributor. She is a very good volleyball player and she is very good in the classroom. She’s quiet if you don’t know her, but if you do know her she is very friendly, she laughs all the time,” said Daniels.
Julie Priessler (left) with teammate JoJo L'Heureux on the volleyball court
Priessler is also Treasurer of the National Honor Society, a member of the Junior Booster club, which volunteers at sporting events and sells merchandise. She also was in the foreign language club in her sophomore year and a member of the prom committee, and if that is not enough, she also has a part-time job at Park ‘N Shop in Dudley.
The outstanding student has been accepted at two excellent institutions’ nursing programs at the University of Rhode Island and St. Anselm’s in Manchester, New Hampshire. She is still in the process of finalizing her choice.
“They are really different, I am going to go back and visit them both again and then I’ll make a decision,” said Priessler.
As far as leaving Shepherd Hill, she said, “I am excited to leave and a little nervous at the same time.”