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Rutgers hires Caitlin Schweihofer as new women’s volleyball head coach

AD Pat Hobbs once again tabbed a proven program builder as the new leader for a team that’s struggled in the Big Ten.

Jim Pierce

Rutgers announced the hiring of Caitlin Schweihofer as head coach of the Rutgers women’s volleyball program on Thursday. She was the 2018 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year at LaSalle before leading Northeastern to a 16-15 finish this past season in the Colonial Athletic Association. Schweihofer has six seasons of head coaching experience at the Division I level and prior to that served as an assistant for one year each at Lehigh and Bucknell.

“We welcome Caitlin to the Rutgers Athletics family,” said Hobbs. “Caitlin has elevated programs and orchestrated turnarounds at each stop throughout her career, and as much as her teams have succeeded on the court, she has always placed a high priority on academics and overall student-athlete development. We are excited to bring her aboard as we compete in the best volleyball league in the nation.”

“From the minute I came to campus to meet with the search committee, I could feel the overwhelming enthusiasm and sense of family in the Rutgers athletic community,” said Schweihofer. “There was also an obvious passion for the work being done within the athletic department to create a strong student-athlete experience. A heartfelt thanks to Pat Hobbs, Sarah Baumgartner, Kate Hickey and the rest of the search committee for the opportunity to be Rutgers volleyball new leader. I greatly appreciate their trust and support, as we look to usher Rutgers volleyball into a new era of success. Over the next few weeks, my husband Scott and I are excited to move our family back closer to my hometown, meet the current team, and hit the ground running.”

This past season, Schweihofer led Northeastern to its best hitting percentage in over a decade and finished in the top three of the CAA in hitting percentage, kills, digs and assists.

Schweihofer led LaSalle for five seasons and coached multiple players to all-conference and all-rookie honors. The program steadily improved in her tenure, culminating in the program’s first ever Atlantic 10 Tournament appearance in 2018, where they won in the opening round before falling in the semifinals. That same season, LaSalle produced it’s most wins (18-12) in the past 20 years since 1998. It resulted in her earning coach of the year honors in the conference. She also helped lead fundraising efforts at LaSalle, where she was involved in the process of increasing funding and raising money for a locker room renovation.

The new Rutgers coach was the 2006 Big East Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year at St. John’s, where she was a captain on a team that went 31-5 and won the conference championship, as well as produced an undefeated regular season in league play. They advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament that season, her senior campaign.

Academically, Schweihofer completed her degree at St. John’s in 2007 after just three years with a 3.9 cumulative grade point average. She earned three different Academic All-Big East honors, while she was named a Second Team All-Big East selection for her play on the court. Schweihofer also holds a Master’s degree in educational leadership and higher education administration from Lehigh.

It won’t be an easy task taking over a Rutgers volleyball program that has gone 3-117 since joining the Big Ten six seasons ago. The program is still based in the old Barn on College Avenue, so her experience leading teams with less resources at smaller schools should help her at Rutgers. However, the Big Ten conference is a powerhouse, as two teams made the Final Four this past season and five programs finished in the final Top 25 poll. Schweihofer will need time to improve the talent and depth of the roster in order for Rutgers to move up the conference ladder, so patience will be needed. Hobbs has leaned towards hiring up and coming coaches from smaller conferences that have had success rebuilding programs at that level. Hopefully, that success will translate for Schweihofer at Rutgers. She replaces former coach C.J. Werneke, who served as head coach the previous 12 seasons.