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Wildcat alumna Charita Stubbs takes on new role as head Arizona volleyball coach; ‘I bleed red and blue’


Assistant Head Coach Charita Stubbs talks to players in McKale Center on Nov. 23, 2022, in a game against University of Colorado at Boulder. The Wildcats lost the match 3 games to 1. (Courtesy of  Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Athletics)

Charita Stubbs was named the next head coach of the Arizona volleyball team shortly after the announcement of Dave Rubio’s retirement. With this promotion, Stubbs is now the first African-American head coach in the University of Arizona’s volleyball program history as well as the school’s fourth head volleyball coach.

As a former Wildcat, Stubbs played at the UA under Rubio from 1990-94 before spending 19 years on Rubio’s coaching staff. During a gap in her time at the UA, Stubbs also led North Carolina State University’s volleyball team as head coach.

“I am incredibly excited to name Charita Stubbs as our next head volleyball coach,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. “As a former Wildcat student-athlete and longtime member of Dave Rubio’s staff, Rita has a great appreciation and understanding of what it means to compete for the University of Arizona. Rita has a tremendous vision and outstanding skill set that will set the course for future success for Arizona volleyball, and I look forward to watching her add more chapters to the storied legacy of the program.”

In a press conference announcing the promotion, Rubio said he is confidant Stubbs is the best person to take over the program.

“It was a natural transition for us, for me to recommend her to follow me,” Rubio said. “I’m so appreciative of Dave Heeke and the administration to have enough confidence in her and to carry on and make it better. We need to be better, and I have all of the confidence in the world that Rita is the right person for the job. And I’m excited she’s been given the opportunity to do that.”

With Rubio, Stubbs coached one of the top defenses in the nation during the 2022 season and helped bring the Wildcats to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in her 19 total seasons with the team. Some of he other coaching achievements include helping coach nine Wildcats to All-American status, including Devyn Cross, Arizona’s first middle blocker to earn honorable mention All-American honors since Melissa McLinden in 1985.

“I want to thank Dave Heeke for believing in me and naming me the new head coach of Arizona volleyball,” Stubbs said in a statement. “I am excited to lead my alma mater as I bleed red and blue. I cannot thank Dave Rubio enough for believing in this girl from Cleveland, Ohio as a player and as a coach. I stand for truth, hard work and discipline in this game, and I will continue Arizona volleyball’s culture where our student-athletes enjoy the process.”


Since Stubbs joined Rubio’s coaching staff, the Wildcats have appeared in five of the last ten NCAA Tournaments. In this past 10 years with the team, Stubbs has helped Arizona win a total of 175 games. This is one of the most successful ten-year runs in school history.

Stubbs first began her coaching career in 1997 as an assistant coach under Rubio. In her first nine consecutive years with the team, she helped the Wildcats reach the NCAA Tournament every single year and finish in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll in eight of those nine seasons. She then began her first head coaching experience in North Carolina in 2006 before returning to Arizona in 2013.

Before her coaching career, Stubbs — known then as Charita Johnson — had accomplishments scattered through the the university’s history books. She was the first player in Arizona history to record 300 kills, 300 digs and 100 blocks in one season. As a player, she also led the Wildcats to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances at the 1993 and 1994 NCAA Tournaments.

At the press conference, Stubbs thanked Rubio for encouraging her to take on the role and believing in her.

“I don’t know that I can articulate enough about what Dave did,” she said. “I like to tell everyone he saved me three times. He saved me as a player, he saved me when he believed in me to be a coach when I had no desire to coach … and when he brought me back from North Carolina. My hearts goes out for Dave and I can’t say enough about him.”

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