Tomic leaves FIU for Bowling Green

By Eduardo Almaguer/ Staff Writer

In late December, hundreds of Panther fans were packing their bags in anticipation of heading north to cheer on their team against Marshall University in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. Former head volleyball coach Danijela Tomic was packing her bags too.

She was not, however, going to Tampa to cheer on the Panthers. In fact, she was not coming back to FIU at all.
The seven-year coach flew to Ohio and accepted a position as the head volleyball coach at Bowling Green State University and was formally introduced as a Falcon on Dec. 20, the same day as the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. By far the most difficult experience of it all was breaking the news to her players, many of whom were on vacation at the time.

“I had to make the toughest phone calls of my life to my kids to tell them I wasn’t their coach anymore,” said Tomic. “It was very tough emotionally for me and for them. They were shocked. This happened unexpectedly.”

Tomic’s FIU résumé no doubt impressed the faculty at BGSU. She compiled an impressive 158-61 record in her seven years as a Panther. Her .721 career winning percentage ranks top 20 among active NCAA Division I coaches. She was also named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year three times in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Her pinnacle in FIU was undoubtedly the 2009 season in which the Panthers went 32-4 overall with a spotless 17-0 record in conference play.

“2009 was a magical year,” said Tomic.

When it came to success, Tomic made it her priority to extend it to her players as well. During her tenure, her players earned six AVCA All-American awards, two Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors and 24 All-Sun Belt Conference awards.

“I really, really feel blessed having all my players for seven years in FIU and all the coaches that worked with me and all the fans and support,” said Tomic. “That’s priceless. Relationships you build with people are something that enriches us as human beings.”

So what prompted her to leave the program she built from the ground up?

“I couldn’t grow anymore at FIU. I’m not okay to be average in anything,” she said boldly.

Tomic stated that BGSU reached out to her as early as in the beginning of December and showed that they really wanted her. She mentioned that BGSU treats volleyball as a priority sport and that they have the best volleyball facility in the Midwest. In addition, Tomic said that the region is very rich in volleyball talent.

“The combination of everything was just a good thing for me,” said Tomic.

So with a vacant position as head coach of indoor volleyball, newly assigned Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Volleyball Operations Rita Buck-Crockett is tasked with finding a viable candidate to continue building upon the success that Tomic had.
According to Buck-Crockett, the posting for the job was published as early as Jan. 6. She did mention, however, that there have already been inquiries into the position.
“We want somebody that is going to lead the program and go to the national championship,” she said. “Bottom line is, you have to know what you’re doing to take a position like this. There are some big shoes to fill.”

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