TAMPA - University of South Florida head volleyball coach Claire Lessinger has decided to resign from her current position due to an illness in her family, USF Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Woolard announced on Wednesday. Lessinger's mother was recently diagnosed with cancer and Lessinger determined that spending more time with her family was most important, setting July 15th as her last day as head coach. A national search for Lessinger's successor will begin immediately.
"Our thoughts are with Claire and her family during this difficult time," Woolard said. "We'll provide whatever support we can for her moving forward. As a coach, Claire has been an asset to the department both as an assistant coach and as the head volleyball coach for the last eight years. Her teams were consistently competitive on the court and have remained one of our top performing programs in the classroom. Claire's passion both for USF and the volleyball program have been evident and that energy will be missed."
Lessinger just completed her 13th season with the USF volleyball program, including the past eight years as head coach. Since transitioning from assistant coach to head coach in 2004, she has helped transform the program, appearing in the conference tournament in four of the last five seasons, including third-place finishes in 2007 and '09.
"I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished during my time at USF," Lessinger stated. "As much as I love the coaches, student-athletes and staff here, my family is the most important thing to me, and right now, I need to be with them. I've been lucky to work with one of the best staffs in the country, a committed group of young women and an administration that has fully supported our program. That combination has helped get this program back on the right track. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a Bull since 1999 and I look forward to seeing this program continue to grow and compete."
Lessinger is well-known throughout the volleyball community and is currently serving as the Vice President of the BIG EAST Coaches Association and as Chair of the American Volleyball Coaches' Association (AVCA) All-Region Committee. Lessinger just completed her first year with the AVCA All-American Committee. She also votes in the Top 25 Coaches Poll and has served on the AVCA Coaches 4 Coaches Committee.
A native of the Tampa Bay area, Lessinger played volleyball at the University of Florida from 1993-97 and helped lead the Gators to five consecutive SEC titles and three trips to the Final Four. She graduated from Florida in 1997 with a degree in exercise and sports science with a concentration in sports management and spent one year as an assistant coach at Boston College (1998) prior to joining the USF staff.