Director of Athletics Bill Maher announced on January 11, 2016 that Lenika Vazquez has been named the 11th head coach in Canisius volleyball program history. Vazquez, a Buffalo native who played her scholastic volleyball at City Honors, comes to Canisius after serving as an assistant coach at Butler for the previous four seasons.
“We are very pleased to bring Lenika back to Buffalo and have her lead our volleyball program,” Maher said. “She has the passion, excitement and care for student-athletes and their development that make her an excellent fit in our athletic department and our campus community. She is a tireless recruiter and she played an integral role in helping move the Butler program from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East Conference. I look forward to working with her as we continue to our goal to build a volleyball program that competes for MAAC championships.”
“My excitement is really hard to put into words,” Vazquez said. “I am really looking forward to joining a Canisius community that lives by a high standard across the board, both athletically and academically. I saw that first-hand in my interview and I know with that level of support, we can build a very successful volleyball program.”
In her four seasons at Butler, Vazquez was a part of the coaching staff that helped the Bulldogs win 73 matches, highlighted by back-to-back 20-win campaigns in 2013 and 2014. Butler earned a berth into the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament in 2013, followed by a trip to the Big East Conference semifinal round in 2014 after the team went 20-10 overall and 12-6 in league play. In her time at Butler, six players earned all-league honors, and setter Makayla Ferguson was named Big East Freshman of the Year in 2014.
Prior to joining Sharon Clark’s staff at Butler, Vazquez spent two years as the head coach at South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill. She also co-founded Illiana Explosive Volleyball Club in Crete, Ill., a south suburb of Chicago. In addition to coaching in the Chicago area, she worked as a personal training director at LA Fitness in Oakbrook, Ill.
Before coaching at South Suburban, Vazquez was the head coach at Chicago State University for three seasons. While in charge of the Cougars program, Vazquez proved to be a talented recruiter and coach. She had three players break school records for kills, blocks, assists and digs and she had several players earn various academic accolades for their work in the classroom.
Vazquez started her college coaching career in 2002, when she served as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Southern Illinois. While on staff at SIU, she was involved in recruiting, travel planning, training, game management and community service projects. In her first season on the bench with the Salukis, she was part of the first team in school history to earn a berth in the Missouri Valley Conference final after the squad posted a 23-10 overall record.
A 2001 graduate of Southern Illinois, Vazquez was a defensive specialist as a player, with her playing career running from 1996-99. She graduated from the school with her bachelor’s degree business management.
Vazquez replaces Cathy Hummel, who served as Canisius’ head coach for 15 seasons. The Griffs will return nine letterwinners and three starters from the 2015 team that went 11-19 overall and 9-9 in MAAC play.