Northern Michigan University assistant volleyball coach Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez to play as a professional

Alexis "Pookie" Gonzalez

By Journal Sports Staff

MARQUETTE — Coaching may very well be in her future, and it was certainly in her past, but now Northern Michigan University assistant volleyball coach Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez is returning to the volleyball court as a player.

An assistant with Wildcats head coach Mike Lozier since February 2020 — one month before the onset

of the coronavirus pandemic — Gonzalez has signed to play as a setter with the professional team Las Pinkin de Corozal in Corozal, Puerto Rico.

“I could not have imagined a better place to start my coaching career,” Gonzalez said about the Wildcats in a news release about her signing from NMU Sports Information. “Between being GLIAC regular season and tournament champions to making it to the NCAA tournament, there’s something special about this program.”

In her first season, which was the 2020 season that was actually held in the winter and spring of 2021, NMU finished as co-champions in the regular season in the GLIAC, then won the conference tournament.

Mike Lozier

That qualified the Wildcats for the NCAA Division II tourney, which unfortunately wasn’t held because of all the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

This past fall, while Northern didn’t win any GLIAC titles, the Wildcats did qualify as an at-large team in the NCAA tourney that was back on.

“To the team, thank you for always coming in and giving your all,” Gonzalez is also quoted as saying in the news release. “There was never a question about your commitment to each other and to yourselves. To the fans, thank you for making game day something to look forward to. The atmosphere was second to none.

“And to Mike, thank you for allowing me opportunities to grow. My time at Northern is always something I’ll look back on with a grin spreading from ear to ear.”

Lozier has similar sentiments.

“It’s tough to quantify what Pookie has meant to Northern Michigan volleyball, but I will try,” he said in the release. “Since Pookie joined our program, we won a conference regular season championship for the first time in 18 years. We won a conference tournament championship for the first time in 18 years.

“Finally, this past season, we qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in 12 years.

“Those accomplishments are impressive and deserve recognition, but it was Pookie’s dedication to creating a strong and lasting culture that I will remember the most.

“All of us associated with Northern Michigan volleyball want to wish Pookie the best of luck in her next adventure.”

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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