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Pieces of Eight

ECU volleyball coach Chris Rushing encourages among his team members a strong work ethic and enthusiasm in sports and academics. Above, he practices with the ECU team. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)

Rushing Encourages Excellence On and Off The Field

In coordination with the Recognition and Rewards Committee of the ECU Staff Senate, the Pieces of Eight series honoring exceptional ECU staff recognizes Chris Rushing.

By Judy Currin

Chris Rushing enjoys sharing his knowledge of the sport he knows so well.

He is entering his fourth season as ECU’s head volleyball coach and looking forward to the start of the 2008 season.

“Our girls are working hard on the court as well as in the classroom,” Rushing said. “It’s good to see this type of desire and work ethic towards our goals.”

Academic achievement is a priority for Rushing. Last year’s team received the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award. The honor recognizes teams that carried a 3.30 or higher cumulative team grade point average throughout the school year.

“We are a relatively young team, with only one senior on our roster,” Rushing said.

Rushing said he was grateful to ECU administration for helping the team make a schedule conducive to its situation, a schedule that included more home games.

“It’s more fun for our athletes to play at home in front of their friends they’ve made at ECU, as well as our wonderful community that supports us,” Rushing added. “Playing more at home also helps them to be able to attend more classes and get more quality study time.”

Rushing works to instill the same desire and work ethic in his volunteer efforts as the director of the East Carolina Junior Volleyball Club (ECJVC), now in his third year.

The non-profit ECJVC is organized and run by parents and coaches and affiliated with the Junior Olympic Volleyball Program, the national youth program of USA Volleyball.

Leslie Craigle (Business Services) is a board member. Her daughter, Pammy, now a junior at J.H. Rose High School, has been a team member since 2005.

“ I believe there are about a 100 players in the club,” she said.

“ This past season we had eight teams ranging from 12 to 18 years old.”

Under Rushing’s leadership, the club has risen in national attention and respect. In 2008 he took his 16 and Under Team to the USA-Junior Volleyball Olympics.

The team, which included his daughter Aubrey and son Josh, as assistant coach, brought home the bronze medal. “The win was significant for me,” Rushing said. “When I was a member of the 1985 Junior Volleyball Olympic team from California, we also brought home a bronze. It’s just been 23 years.”

Rushing’s enthusiasm to improve the club has been contagious. “His experience as a college player (BYU 1990 All-time Letterman) and now coach, presents a wider vision to the board,” Craigle said. “He’s helped the club see the potential these girls have to compete at the highest levels and how we can grow as a club.”

Rushing spent untold hours looking for a home facility for ECJVC. He recently created a partnership with Courtside Athletics which now gives the girls plenty of opportunity to practice as well as the chance to work out year round for strength and conditioning.

“Watching the girls play, you can see the positive impact Chris has made on their skill level, competitive spirit and over-all love of the game,” Craigle said.

Rushing often brings members of the ECU Volleyball Team to the club’s practice to assist in coaching, which gives them leadership experience and the opportunity to serve as role models for the younger players.

“It helps too that he’s a dad,” Craigle said. “He can relate to the team on that level off the court.” Rushing’s youngest daughter, Brooke, is a player.

“Having all three kids play allows me to spend more time with them,” he said.

Rushing is married to Jeannine Rushing, lecturer in ECU’s Department of Exercise and Sports Science.

Inducted into the Servire Society during ECU’s Centennial Celebration, Rushing embodies the university’s spirit – “to serve.”

This page originally appeared in the Aug. 29, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at