Julia Crawford
Lakewood Volleyball

FEATURE: Lakewood’s Julia Crawford Has Made Her Own Name

Julia Crawford wanted nothing more than to make a name for herself.

The Lakewood outside hitter and Fullerton commit grew up on the baseball and softball diamonds of Long Beach, watching her older brother JP and older sister Eliza play–and excel. When she was entering high school she almost wanted to break with family tradition and not attend Lakewood, but ended up becoming the third of Beth and Larry Crawford’s kids to wear the red and white.

One thing she knew was that she didn’t want to be in her siblings’ shadow.

“Volleyball let me make my own name,” she said. “And I was tired of softball games.”

The lucky recipient of her desire to strike out on her own was Lakewood volleyball coach Mike Wadley, who put Crawford on his varsity team as a freshman. The Lancers have won at least a share of the Moore League title each of the last three years.

“She wanted to do it on her own,” said Wadley. “We told her on day one, ‘We’re not going to compare you to anyone, you’re doing something else.’ The way she trains and works, that’s who she is–she’s a leader on the court example-wise.”

Crawford’s a high school coach’s dream, a six-rotation player who can sky high and smash it at the net, but also pass it smoothly from the back row. The fact that it’s her senior year does mean the end of an era for the Lancers, and for Beth and Larry.

Asked to estimate how many Lakewood sporting events she and her husband have attended over the years, Beth laughed. “Hundreds and hundreds,” she said. “Thousands. I don’t even want to try the math.”

There were nine years between Eliza and Julia, and six years between JP and Julia. Despite that fact the trio have remained close, exchanging texts before big games, or watching Phillies games on TV when JP’s in the lineup.

It’s remarkable what the three of them have accomplished. All three were four-year starters at Lakewood, and Eliza and Julia both earned Cal State Fullerton scholarships, while JP was drafted by the Phillies out of high school. It’s a legacy of success that very few sets of sisters and brothers can lay claim to.

Beth said she doesn’t have any parenting advice as far as raising kids who are successful in sports. She and Larry are about as far from Lavar Ball as they come, and they were never dragging their kids into the garage for 6 a.m. workouts.

“It was no extra effort for us, they were blessed with talent,” she said. “The kids always had the desire themselves to want to do well, we never forced anything on them. That’s very unappealing to me; if they want to play because they enjoy it, then do it. If they’re going to be good, they’ll be good. They worked because they wanted to.”

That work by Julia has earned her three league titles already and a full ride to college. Along the way, she’s done what she always to: made her own name.

“Everyone always knew me as JP and Eliza’s little sister and I really didn’t like that at first,” she said. “I wanted to be my own person. But I’m definitely glad they made such a big name for our family and I’m glad that I could fulfill that, too.”

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.