Assistant Athletic Director/ Head Sand Volleyball Coach Rita Buck-Crockett will also serve as head coach of the Panthers’ indoor volleyball squad, FIU Sports announced Monday, June 17.
Additionally, Felix Hou will join the indoor coaching staff as associate head coach.
“I am extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to coach both the indoor and sand volleyball teams here at FIU,” said Buck-Crockett. “These players have such a passion for the game and for their university, and it is truly an honor to be able to coach each and every one of them. The addition of Felix Hou to the indoor staff will be a great benefit for us, as his experience and success at both the collegiate and international levels is second to none. With our outstanding staff and such talented, hard-working student-athletes, there is no doubt that the FIU volleyball program is on its way to reaching even greater heights as we move to Conference USA.”
A member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Class of 2011 and a two-time Olympian, Buck-Crockett brought a wealth of playing experience at the highest levels of competition to FIU, along with more than 20 years of coaching experience. Hired as the head coach for FIU’s new sand volleyball program in Dec. 2011, Buck-Crockett led FIU through a successful inaugural season in 2013.
In her first season at the helm, Buck-Crockett saw Kate Stepanova become the university’s first-ever sand volleyball All-American. In addition, the Panther pair of Jessica Mendoza and Maryna Samoday reached the Final Four of the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Pairs Championship, and the duo of Stepanova and Ksenia Sukhareva advanced to the Elite Eight.
Buck-Crockett, came to FIU from Tallahassee, Fla., where she owned and operated the North Florida Volleyball Academy, while also coaching the Maclay High School varsity squad. Before then, Buck-Crockett served as the associate head coach at Florida State (2004-06) and as the head coach at Iowa (1998-2004). Internationally, Buck-Crockett was the head coach of RTV Basel in Switzerland (1993-97) and served as the Swiss National Team head coach (1995).
As a player, Buck-Crockett enjoyed a successful professional career, representing the United States on the National Volleyball Team during the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, helping her squad to a Silver Medal during the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif. A member of the All-World Team in 1981, Buck-Crockett achieved success playing in Japan, Italy, Switzerland and Peru over the next 15 years.
Buck-Crockett was a world beach champion for the WPVA, partnering with the first-ever Olympic Gold medalist, Jackie Silva in 1989 and was also runner-up in 1990. She also played several successful seasons on the AVP professional beach circuit.
Like Buck-Crockett, Hou brings a wealth of collegiate and international experience to FIU, including 16 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience and extensive international expertise, both as a coach and a player.
Hou began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Maryland (1995-99), where he helped guide the Terrapins to numerous milestones, including an undefeated home campaign in 1995; ACC regular season and tournament titles in 1996; a 25-0 undefeated regular season in 1997; and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
In 1999, Hou moved on to UMBC where he served as head coach until 2002. In four seasons, Hou led the Retrievers to a Northeast Conference record of 33-3, including a 9-0 mark in 2000. That year, his squad won the NEC regular-season title and Hou was recognized as NEC Coach of the Year.
Hou returned to Maryland as assistant coach and technique director in 2003, serving in the position until 2008. With Hou’s guidance, the Terps won three-straight ACC championships from 2003-05, earning three more NCAA Tournament berths.
From 2008-12, Hou served as an assistant coach at University of Miami (Fla.), leading the Hurricanes to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances (2009-10) and a successful 26-6 campaign in 2008. He then spent the 2012 season as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh.
Hou’s international experience as a player includes seven years as a member of the Chinese Men’s National Team (1977-83). In terms of international coaching experience, Hou has served as head coach of the Iceland National Volleyball Team (1991-03), Iceland University Men’s and Women’s Teams (1988-91), China Women’s Youth Team (1986-88), and Beijing BaYi Volleyball Club (1986-87).