Florida Atlantic University beach volleyball coach Capri Grotowski passed away on Saturday after battling breast cancer for the past decade. She was 38.
A graduate of Lake Worth High School and a former volleyball star for Northwood University, Grotowski has been the head coach of the Owls’ beach volleyball program since 2014, which often dealt with cancer treatments. She nonetheless built FAU into a national powerhouse, scoring as high as No. 8 in national polls and consistently finishing in the top 25.
“Capri was an incredible coach, but she was an even better person,” Brian White, FAU vice president and director of Athletics, said in a statement. “We will be forever grateful for the contributions she has made to FAU Athletics, built the beach volleyball program into a national contender and positively impacted the lives of our student athletes over the past eight years.”
FAU President John Kelly added in a statement: “The FAU family has suffered a terrible loss with the passing of Coach Grotowski. We are grateful for Capri’s service to the university and for all the lives she has influenced throughout her life and career.”
She is survived by her husband, FAU assistant coach Steve Grotowksi; son Cayd and daughter Kayh. Steve was a member of the British beach volleyball team at the 2012 Olympics.
The Sandy Owls had a historic season in 2022, finishing the year with a record 23 wins and the program’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament, including a first-round win over Stanford and a move to the Elite 8. Capri Grotowski earned Conference USA Coach of the Year honors.
In 2021, she led FAU to the highest AVCA ranking at the time (11th) and their first CCSA title. Grotowski also broke the record of 100 wins with a 3-2 win over North Florida on April 9. In 2020, the Owls posted a 10-game winning streak and were 11-1 before COVID-19 ended the season prematurely. Despite the abrupt end to the season, the FAU ended the year with the highest ranking at the time in both DiG Magazine’s (10th) and AVCA’s (12th) latest national polls.
The former Capri Hilgendorf attended Northwood University, now known as Keizer University, and was the volleyball team’s MVP in all four seasons, as well as a three-time All-Florida Sun Conference roster. sophomore, she switched to a mid-blocker and earned All-League honors for the next two seasons.
After graduating from school in 2006, Grotowski decided to focus on beach volleyball. She has played on several local tours and had numerous top three Opens, including over 25 career wins. In 2009, she qualified for the AVP Championship for the first time and played on the tour for the next two years. After taking a year off before the birth of her son, Grotowski returned to beach volleyball and finished in the top 10.
Grotowski also started coaching a local beach club in 2006 before co-founding VB Beach, a training club for junior and adult beach volleyball, with her husband.
The memorial services are pending.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Capri Grotowski turned FAU Owls beach volleyball into national power