Florida Atlantic beach volleyball coach Capri Grotowski dies at 38


Capri Grotowski led the Owls to their most successful season in 2022 while battling breast cancer.

Florida Atlantic University beach volleyball coach Capri Grotowski died Saturday after battling breast cancer for the past decade. She was 38 years old.

Grotowski, a Lake Worth High School graduate and former Northwood University volleyball player, had been the head coach of the Owls’ beach volleyball program since 2014, often dealing with cancer treatments. She nonetheless made the FAU a national powerhouse, ranking 8th in national polls and consistently finishing in the top 25.

“Capri was an incredible coach, but she was an even better person,” FAU Vice President and Director of Sport Brian White said in a statement. “We will be forever grateful for the contributions she has made to FAU Athletics, making the beach volleyball program a national contender and positively impacting 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 influenced throughout her life and career.

She is survived by her husband, FAU Assistant Coach Steve Grotowksi; son Cayd and daughter Kyh. Steve was a member of the UK beach volleyball team at the 2012 Olympics.

The Sandy Owls had a historic 2022 season, ending the year with a record 23 wins and the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including a first-round victory over Stanford and progress to the elite 8. Capri Grotowski was named Conference USA Coach of the Year Honors.

In 2021, she led the FAU to the highest AVCA ranking at the time (11th) and its first CCSA title. Grotowski also broke the 100 win record with a 3-2 win over North Florida on April 9. In 2020, the Owls had a 10-game winning streak and were 11-1 before COVID-19 ended the season prematurely. Despite the abrupt end to the season, FAU ended the year with the highest ranking at the time in the final national polls from DiG Magazine (10th) and AVCA (12th).

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 selection of the All Florida Sun Conference. After being named an All-League perimeter hitter as a sophomore, she transitioned to a blocking midfielder and earned All-League honors the next two seasons.

After graduating from school in 2006, Grotowski decided to focus on beach volleyball. She’s been on multiple local tours and has won numerous top-three Opens, including more than 25 career wins. In 2009, she qualified for the AVP Championship for the first time and played on the circuit for the next two years. After taking a year off for the birth of her son, Grotowski returned to beach volleyball and finished in the top 10.

Grotowski also began coaching a local beach club in 2006 before founding VB Beach, a junior and adult beach volleyball coaching club, with her husband.

Memorial services are on hold.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Capri Grotowski turned FAU Owls beach volleyball into a national powerhouse