In January 2010, Volleyball magazine named Chris Bigelow—assistant coach of the California women’s volleyball team—one of the nation’s top-10 Division I assistant coaches. But on Jan. 12, head coach Rich Feller announced that Bigelow would resign from her position and retire from coaching altogether after being with the Golden Bears for 12 years.
“The most difficult thing about stepping away is the relationships that I’ve built over the years,” Bigelow said. “I’m going to miss seeing all of the people I’ve become friends with on a day-to-day schedule. When I came to Cal, my goal was to help build a program that could compete at a high level on a regular basis, and I think we succeeded.”
With Bigelow’s resignation, the Golden Bears lose one of the integral components to securing five top-10 recruiting classes since 1999, the year she was hired by Feller.
“She was my first recruit when I accepted the job at Cal in 1998, and together, we have built a program that we are each very proud of,” Feller said. “I am particularly pleased that Chris was able to be with us during our best season, ever, and that she a part of our first Pac-10 championship.
“She is a tireless worker, who was always a valuable source of wisdom and experience to our team and staff.”
Following Feller’s announcement, on Jan. 13 he appointed Jennifer Carey to assistant coach to fill the void left by Bigelow. Carey had previously been Director of Operations for Cal since Feb. 5, 2009.
In her previous role, Carey was responsible for balancing the team’s budget while also planning the program’s travel itinerary. Additionally, Carey served as the main source of contact between the team and the business and financial aid offices.
“I am honored and grateful for this opportunity,” Carey said. “I know that Rich [Feller] has very high expectations, but I am excited to meet the challenges that come with accepting this job, head on. It is not possible to step in and just fill Chris’s [Bigelow] shoes, so I will have to blaze my own trail. I am eternally grateful for all of the wisdom and guidance that she has shared with me and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to getting into the gym, and getting to work with our great group of players.”
Prior to arriving with the Golden Bears, Carey served as an assistant coach with Georgia Tech during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
In addition to her coaching experience, though, Carey was a four-year starter at Hawaii (1999-2003). As a setter, she finished her illustrious career in fourth place on the program’s all-time assists list with 3,540 helpers. Ironically, her first collegiate match for the Rainbow Wahine was against Cal, with Feller and Bigelow on the Golden Bear sideline. On Sept. 1, 1999, Carey had 33 assists and 12 digs in Hawaii’s victory against Cal in Berkeley, Calif.
Originally published in March/April 2011