PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Eastern Connecticut State has built up its athletics program to national recognition as a result of the hard work and determination of the young coaches and administration nearly 40 years ago when the athletics department started to create most of its programs. Floretta Crabtree, a member of the physical education/coaching staff at Eastern Connecticut State for 26 years, was one of the coaches in 1975 that instituted, developed and maintained the Warriors volleyball program for the next 22 years.
The Camden, Maine native coached the program’s first 911 matches, winning 616 and losing only 295 before stepping down after the 1996 season as the winningest coach at all levels in the history of New England collegiate volleyball with a 67.6 winning percentage.
Nicknamed “Pinky”, Crabtree had her program qualify and compete in postseason tournaments in every season beginning with 1977 as the Warriors qualified 11 times in the first 16-year history of the NCAA Division III Tournament, including four straight in her final four seasons (1993-1996). Under Crabtree, Eastern Connecticut State won 22 invitational tournaments, placed second 28 times and was third on 24 occasions. The program had won at least 40 matches in a single season 11 times.
Crabtree earned her 500th career match win in the midst of her 18th season at Eastern Connecticut State with a 3-0 (15-2, 15-3, 15-10) win over Clark University on October 20, 1992 and Crabtree’s final win (#616) was a 3-0 win over Cortland State on November 9, 1996.
Crabtree served as chairperson of the NCAA Division III New England Regional Advisory Committee since its inception and was on the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association All-American Committee. As a result of her continued efforts, the New England area was awarded its own NCAA region in 1994, providing the area with increased representation in NCAA Division III tournaments and has helped the region grow the sport of volleyball throughout the New England area into the ultra-competitive sport we have today.
Floretta “Pinky” Crabtree was inducted in to the Eastern Connecticut State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.