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Lessinger steps down due to family health issues



Claire Lessinger, USF's head volleyball coach for the past eight seasons, announced Wednesday that she is resigning next month due to family health issues, wanting to spend more time with her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer.

Lessinger, who has been part of USF's program for 13 seasons, will coach the team through July 15, with a national search underway to find her successor with the Bulls.

"Our thoughts are with Claire and her family during this difficult time," athletic director Doug Woolard said in a statement. "We'll provide whatever support we can for her moving forward. As a coach, Claire has been an asset to the department. ... Claire's passion both for USF and the volleyball program have been evident and that energy will be missed."

USF qualified for the Big East tournament in four of Lessinger's last five seasons, including third-place showings in 2007 and 2009. She leaves with a career record of 101-127, but that mark is 88-85 in the last six seasons, including a 44-40 Big East record in that span.

"I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished during my time at USF," Lessinger said in USF's release. "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 look forward to seeing this program continue to grow and compete."

USF should have ample interest in the position, though the Bulls also have a solid in-house candidate in Nikki Shade, who has been Lessinger's top assistant since 2004 and has known Lessinger since they were teammates at Florida. Lessinger starred at Clearwater Central Catholic and was part of Gators teams that reached three Final Fours during her time in Gainesville.

It's the second longtime USF coach that has stepped down in the past week, following men's tennis coach Don Barr, who retired after 20 seasons as head coach last week.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:50pm]


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