Ellensburg High School’s head volleyball coach Debbie Landrie speaks to her team before the second set against North Kitsap High School during the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 2A state championship tournament at the Nicholson Pavilion at Central Washington University in 2019.

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Before her interview with the Ellensburg Daily Record, Debbie Landrie couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t be able to harbor her tears.

It was an emotional 2020 year for Landrie, especially with losing her sister in December.

As was Tuesday after she officially stepped down from the Ellensburg High School volleyball program after nine seasons total (1990-91, 2013-19).

“I love the girls,” Landrie said. “I teach elementary so it was so nice to go over and be with the high school girls and forming bonds and relationships with them and watching them grow and develop. And that was the hardest part was to decide to go because there’s always somebody that’s coming up through the ranks that you want to stick around and work with, and so it was hard to walk away from the girls that are returning on the varsity team.

“We had a great run last year and it’s hard to leave. No matter when it’s going to be there’s always going to be a player or two or three or four that you don’t want to walk away from.”

Ample of success under Landrie that includes three second-place finishes (’91, ’15, ‘19) along with a third-place trophy in 2018. Landrie coached two seasons in 1990 and ’91 before returning in 2013. Under her tenure, the Bulldogs missed the state tournament just twice, both in her first seasons (’90 and ’13).

The Bulldogs were both Central Washington Athletic Conference and district champs in four straight seasons (2016-19).

“There has been a high level of discipline mixed with love within the volleyball program since my arrival,” EHS athletic director Cole Kanyer said. “I’ve witnessed it multiple times in both a classroom and competition setting. Our program has really hit its stride during coach Landrie’s tenure.”

On what made the Bulldog program one of the most formidable in 2A, Landrie pointed it at many. She credited the help from Mario Andaya (CWU volleyball coach), Momi Bowles, who coordinates camps at Gonzaga University, and Diane Nelson, head coach of Gonzaga volleyball.

“I’m one of those that will grab a hold of anybody and say ‘What can you do to make us stronger?’” Landrie said, who finished at Ellensburg with a 137-28 win-loss record. “… There’s a lot of people out there who helped the program. I’m not going to take all of the credit for it, that’s for sure.”

It was also the girl’s commitment, year after year.

“Deb expected your best effort every day with every rep,” said former Bulldog Shauny Fisk, a freshman on the Central Washington University volleyball team. “With those expectations, she created a culture that rubbed off on me and all of my teammates to where we expected the same out of each other.”

Landrie is stepping down because of family reasons, and with a possible return to competition in February, she can’t put her focus on volleyball at this time. Jesse Stueckle will be the interim head coach.

Is there ever a possible return?

“No, I thought about that. But I think it would be hard. I think I need to just walk away,” Landrie said. “I thought about coming back as an assistant and Cole (Kanyer) kind of pushed for that, but you know, when you’ve run it for a long time, I thought about coming back and just switching with Jesse and being the JV coach, but I think I’m going to enjoy sitting in the stands and rooting for them.”

Landrie has taught at Valley View Elementary for years and said she’s nearing retirement. Landrie and her husband love the outdoors, so she said it will be nice to have the summers off, which was normally consumed by volleyball practices and camps.

“I think it’s time we can go and enjoy those things,” Landrie said.


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