The Penn State bench will look a little different next fall. The ever-present leadership of Russ Rose remains intact, but two assistants departed following the Nittany Lions’ December national championship win. Kaleena Davidson left to pursue other career opportunities outside of coaching, and Steve Aird is now head of the team at Maryland. So Rose had some hiring to do.
On Feb. 6, Penn State announced that former Virginia assistant and University of Washington standout Stevie Mussie would step in to replace Davidson, and a week later, the school revealed former Texas associate head coach Salima Rockwell to be the second hiree, coming on as an associate head coach.
Mussie began her coaching career at the University of Colorado after earning MVP honors as a player at the 2006 Seattle Regional. She then moved on to coach at North Carolina State before spending two years at Virginia.
Rockwell, one of the most celebrated assistants in the country, played at Penn State in the early ’90s where she was a three-time All-American. She went on to play for the national team between 1995 and 1999, even serving as a captain for two of those years. Her coaching career blossomed at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oregon before she returned to Penn State as a director of volleyball operations in 2006 and as an assistant coach the two seasons after that, helping lead the team to national championships in both 2007 and 2008. Texas then lured her away and she stayed with the Longhorns for five seasons, helping the team take the national title in 2012. Between her positions at Penn State and Texas, as Rose pointed out, Rockwell has been on the bench for five final fours and three national championships in the last seven years.
Many fans and members of the media wonder if Rockwell returns to PSU to be groomed as Rose’s eventual successor, but as of now, Rose has made no mention of retirement.
Originally published in May 2014