The Student Newspaper of Highline College

John and Chris Littleman

Littlemans build 40 years of Highline volleyball legacy

Keslee Rain Schenck Staff Reporter Jun 03, 2021

Coaching volleyball is a rite of passage for the Littleman family.

Forty years ago Coach John Littleman coached Highline’s women volleyball team, and for the past 11 years his son, Chris Littleman, has continued the tradition. 

For John Littleman he began coaching volleyball at the High School level where he took home four State Championships. 

Then In 1972 he  founded the Sports For Youth Foundation, a non-profit organization providing youth sports to the Seattle area.

Seven years later under the Sports For Youth Foundation John Littleman also created Volleyball Tours, an International sports tour program. 

During the same time period John Littleman began coaching for Highline in 1981. His success began only two years after when the team became NWAC volleyball champions in 1983.

Coach John Littleman just couldn’t get enough volleyball in his life and just four years after becoming head coach at Highline he added another organization to the Sports For Youth Foundation, South End Beach Volleyball.

South End Beach Volleyball is a premiere club based out of Des Moines. 

For the next 28 years Coach John Littleman split his time between directing international volleyball tours, coaching and directing a volleyball club, and coaching for the Thunderbirds volleyball team. 

In his first 10 years of coaching, Coach John Littleman took the Lady T-Birtds to the NWAC finals six times, coming home with the championship trophy five of those times.

Throughout his career Coach John Littleman created an atmosphere of success and after retiring in 2011 he was elected to the Puget Sound Region Hall of Fame.

John Littleman’s life was centered in volleyball, so it’s no surprise that Chris Littleman also carried the eat, sleep, and breath volleyball gene, shown in the fact that Chris Littleman took over coaching at Highline from his father in 2011.

The father and son duo only coached together for one year before John Littleman stepped back from both Highline’s women’s volleyball team and his own volleyball club.

Chris Littleman followed his father’s path by continuing to direct the South End Beach Volleyball team, with his dad alongside him as assistant director. 

The one year that the pair coached together felt natural, nothing out of the ordinary since volleyball was the religion of the Littleman household. 

“Nothing was really unique other than we would ride together to practice,” said Chris Littleman about the one year of coaching with his father. 

Choosing to coach at Highline when he could’ve coached for a variety of teams was simple for Chris Littleman.

“Seattle is home,” he said.

The younger Littleman has been coaching the Lady T-birds for 11 years and has led them to six NWAC Western Conference Championships. 

Three of those years he was named NWAC Western Conference coach of the year.

Through seeing the success of his father and gaining his own experience playing and coaching volleyball, Chris Littleman has tried to create his own unique coaching style that works for him, he said.

“Though I do catch myself sometimes sounding like my dad,” he said.

Head Coach Chris Littleman stays coaching and teaching at Highline because it is his passion and it’s something he enjoys doing, like his dad, he said.