Assistant Athletic Director / Head Coach - Indoor & Sand Volleyball
Rita Buck-Crockett will begin her second year as Assistant Athletic Director and Head Sand Volleyball Coach in 2013-14, after leading the Panther sand volleyball program through an outstanding and successful inaugural campaign in 2012.
FIU is coming off a stellar campaign, as the Panthers went 6-5 in dual matches while playing against the best competition in the country. Buck-Crockett saw FIU’s top duo of Stepanova and Ksenia Sukhareva win the Hawaii Pairs Tournament, and then saw the Panthers’ number two team of Jessica Mendoza and Maryna Samoday win the first-ever Doctors Hospital FIU Surf and Turf Pairs Tournament.
Stepanova and Sukhareva, as well as Mendoza and Samoday were selected to the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championship ‘Best of the Rest’ field, and went on to post perfect 4-0 records in pool play, advancing to the pairs championship bracket. Stepanova, who became FIU’s first-ever sand volleyball All-American, combined with Sukhareva to reach the quarterfinals, while Mendoza and Samoday advanced to the semifinals.
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 one year ago, along with over 20 years of coaching experience.
Her experience as a beach volleyball player are second to none as she was a world beach champion for the WPVA (Women's Professional Volleyball Association) Tour, partnering with the first-ever Olympic Gold medalist Jackie Silva in 1989, and finishing as runner-up in 1990. She also played several successful seasons on the AVP professional beach circuit.
Buck-Crockett was a member of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic Volleyball teams with the 1984 squad winning the silver medal, as she was considered one of the best all-around volleyball players in the world. A 1984 issue of Sports Illustrated touted her as the world's best athlete and nicknamed her "The Rocket," because of her 42-inch vertical leap and her 100 mile-per-hour kills. In 1981, Buck-Crockett was one of six players selected to the All-World Team. She has coached and played in the U.S., Japan, Italy and Switzerland over the last 17 years.
Buck-Crockett earned AIAW All-America honors at the University of Houston prior to joining the U.S. Olympic team to train for the 1980 Olympics. In 1981, she led the U.S. to a bronze medal at the World Cup in Osaka, Japan, and in 1982, that team won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Lima, Peru.
From 1982-86, Buck-Crockett was a member of the Daiei Team in Kobe, Japan, and her 1986 Daiei squad was the champion of the Japan League. She played beach volleyball on the Women's Professional Volleyball Association Tour from 1988-96 and played Major League Volleyball from 1986-87. Buck-Crockett was also a Major League Volleyball champion in both 1986 and 1987 and earned league MVP honors in 1986. In 1986, she teamed with Jackie Silva of Brazil to win the World Beach Volleyball Championship, becoming the first African-American to win a beach volleyball World Championship. The following season she was the league runner-up with Angela Rock (United States).
From 1988 until 1993, Buck-Crockett was a player for Matera, a professional league team in Matera, Italy, and also played in Rome. In 1991, she was voted the MVP of the Italian League, and her 1993 Rome team won the European Championship. Then, from 1993-98, Buck-Crockett coached and played in Switzerland for RTV Basel. During her tenure, her squads won titles including the Swiss Cup (1994-1996) and the Swiss Championship (1995-1996), and participated in the European Cup of Champions (1995). Buck-Crockett was named most valuable player four times.
In the summers of 2000 through 2002, Buck-Crockett was one of only three collegiate head coaches to coach some of the elite youth talent in the country at the USA Youth High Performance Camp at the Olympic Training Centers in Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs.
Most recently, Buck-Crockett served as executive director, president and head coach of the North Florida Volleyball Association. In 2007, she was named USAV Florida Region Female Coach of the Year.
Since 2004, Buck-Crockett has also served as head coach of the Maclay High School volleyball team, which reached the Final Four in the state championships, and head coach of the 2006 Florida State University School volleyball team, which won the district championship. Buck-Crockett has also been running the Rita Crockett Volleyball Camps & Clinics since 2004.
Prior to her stint with the NFVA, Buck-Crockett spent two seasons as the associate head coach at Florida State, during which the volleyball team compiled a record of 31-28.
Before joining the Seminole volleyball program, Buck-Crockett spent six seasons at the University of Iowa, where she had three All-Big Ten selections including an all-region member and an All-USA Team selection. In 2001, Buck-Crockett coached Sarah Meyermann to AVCA Mideast All-Region and All-Big Ten accolades, as Meyermann finished the season with 578 kills to rank sixth nationally. In 2000, Buck-Crockett and her coaching staff guided the Hawkeyes to a 15-win season, the most victories of an Iowa volleyball team since 1994. That year, Buck-Crockett coached Fabiana de Abreu to All-Big Ten Team accolades.
Buck-Crockett received a bachelor of liberal studies/communications degree from the University of Iowa in August of 2002. Buck-Crockett is married to Rene' Buck and is the proud parent of Marrita Royster-Crockett.