Rebecca “Becky” Howard passes away


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, November 30, 2018 – USA Volleyball and NORCECA Confederation are sad to report the passing of Rebecca “Becky” Howard, a trailblazer in the sport of volleyball who advocated for diversity and inclusion. She passed away on Thursday at the age of 79.


Howard served as USA Volleyball’s president (1996-2000) and executive director/CEO (2002-2005), the first woman to hold either of those positions within the national governing body. A year after stepping down from her CEO role, Howard was named the 37th recipient of the Harold T. Friermood “Frier” Award, the highest honor bestowed by USA Volleyball. The honor recognizes the lifetime achievements of the sports’ leaders in the United States.


“USA Volleyball expresses its deepest condolences to Becky's family,” said Jamie Davis, USA Volleyball CEO. “Becky’s imprint on the sport both domestically with USA Volleyball and internationally with the FIVB and NORCECA was immense and we will strive to continue the growth of volleyball in her honor.”


During her nearly 60 years of association with our sport, Howard made an impact wherever she directed her energies. In a sporting world dominated by men, she paved the way for other women to participate, succeed and excel. She was a leader in grassroots, local, regional, national and international volleyball.


“Becky Howard was special!!!!!” said Doug Beal, head coach of the 1984 U.S. Men's Olympic gold-medal team who followed Howard in the role as CEO until his retirement in 2016. “She was unique, she was a leader. She made USAV, and so many of us, much better for being there and following her lead. We were very lucky to have her, and sadly not for long enough. I can’t imagine anyone who knew Becky not recalling bunches of stories or events that showcased her humor, her directness, her strong opinions, and her love for the sport and USA Volleyball. Becky’s footprint was just all over the sport. She didn’t crack glass ceilings – she exploded them.”


Since her early involvement with volleyball, Howard was a trailblazer. Before becoming president of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors, she was the second woman to serve as a USA Volleyball regional commissioner. Her pioneering ways went beyond the United States’ borders as she made major inroads with the sport internationally. She was one of the first two women to serve on the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Board of Administration. Her area of influence expanded with her appointment to the zonal NORCECA Confederation’s executive committee representing North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Not coincidentally, she was the only female member of this group.


“Becky Howard was a credit to the sport of volleyball, one that she loved with passion and devotion,” said NORCECA President Cristobal Marte Hoffiz of the Dominican Republic. “In our many years working together in both NORCECA and FIVB, I was able to confirm her consistent and invaluable qualities as executive manager and as a person.”


Perhaps Howard’s single-most important legacy is that volleyball, both nationally and internationally, is now a more diverse and inclusive community. She set new standards and opportunities for women to assume significant and high-level leadership roles with both USA Volleyball and the FIVB.


In addition to the Frier Award, Howard has received numerous other USA Volleyball awards and recognition. In 2000, she was presented with the Harry E. Wilson Distinguished Service Award and was the recipient of the William G. Morgan Founders Award for her service as USAV president. In 1987, Howard was presented both the George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball Award and the Dr. Neville E. ”Doc” Booth Commissioner’s Award. The Diversity Star Award, established in 2001, is named in her honor.