Volleyball tabs Penn State's Rockwell as assistant coach
Jan. 21, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- One of the nation's premier assistant coaches, Salima Rockwell has been named assistant coach at Texas, Longhorns head coach Jerritt Elliott announced Wednesday. Rockwell joins the Texas staff after spending three seasons on the Penn State coaching staff. Rockwell replaces Tonya Johnson who left Texas to take the head coaching position at Georgia Tech.
"Everyone in our program is excited about the addition of Salima," Elliott said. "Very rarely do you get someone that has her credentials as a former athlete, as a coach and as a person. When we bring in someone with her qualifications, it is a great addition to our team."
Rockwell spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons at PSU as an assistant coach and helped the Nittany Lions to back-to-back NCAA titles. She served as director of volleyball operations in 2006. Rockwell's primary duties included working with the setters and the offense, recruiting and match preparation.
"Salima has been to the 'Final Four' as a setter for Penn State, and now as a coach, she has been a part of winning the last two national championships," Elliott said. "Anytime we add someone who has been in that environment, it adds instant credibility with our staff and players. She knows what it is like to be there and understands the work ethic that is necessary to be successful at an elite level."
The former Salima Davidson was a three-time All-America setter for the Nittany Lions from 1991-94 and served as a two-time team captain of the U.S. National Team during her time with the squad from 1995-99. She returned to Penn State after spending the 2005 season as an assistant coach at Oregon State under legendary head coach Terry Liskevych.
"Salima had two stints at Penn State -- one as an All-America player and one as an assistant coach -- and all the years she was here were enjoyable ones," Penn State head coach Russ Rose said. "I wish her and her family the best in their next step."
Under the guidance of Rockwell, setter Alisha Glass directed the 2007 and 2008 Penn State offenses to nation-leading hitting percentages of .350 (2007) and .390 (2008). In Glass' three-year career, the Penn State offense hit at an astounding .352 hitting percentage.
"Salima's roles will include recruiting, player development and training our setters," Elliott said. "In the gym, she is an excellent trainer, motivator and communicator for our athletes to look up to."
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Rockwell was an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh from 2001-03 where she worked primarily with the Panthers' setters. She also was the Panthers' lead recruiter and signed four of their top five recruits in 2002.
Rockwell captained the USA National Team in 1997 and 1998 and served as the starting setter for the U.S. She earned the Coaches' Award, MVP and the Team Award in both seasons.
Rockwell also spent three years in the ultra-competitive world of pharmaceutical sales, consistently ranking as a top-selling representative.
She still ranks fourth all-time on Penn State's career assists list with 5,455, and sits fourth on the career assists per game list (12.34). She ranks sixth on the career digging charts with 1,278 and sits 15th all-time on the career hitting percentage list (.301). An all-around player, Rockwell also ranks 11th on the career total blocks chart with 382 and was inducted into the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame.
A two-time member of the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team (1993 & 1994), Rockwell also earned All-Big Ten accolades four times, including three First Team selections. She graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of the Arts in speech communications.
Rockwell and her husband, Jeff, have one son, Logan, who was born in October of 2004.