Jan. 18, 2008
PORTLAND, Ore. - Joe Houck, who previously revived volleyball programs at Western Oregon and Concordia University, is the new head volleyball coach at the University of Portland, Director of Athletics Larry Williams announced on Friday. Houck also helped the Eastern Washington volleyball program reach unprecedented heights as the associate head coach.
In eight years as a collegiate head coach, Houck has compiled an overall record of 131-76. He spent the past three years at Western Oregon, where he led the Wolves to their first ever trip to the NCAA Division II postseason in 2007 after seeing a nine-match win improvement from 2006. The team finished 16-10 and second overall in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, the best finish in school history for the Wolves.
Previously, Houck was the associate head coach at Eastern Washington University. During his two years (2002-03) with the Eagles, Houck helped the team win back-to-back Big Sky Conference championships, while posting a 51-10 overall record. EWU also reached its highest national ranking in school history, spending six weeks at No. 15 in the NCAA/AVCA Poll in 2002.
"Joe is a coach that has had success at every stop along his career path," Williams said. "His ability to develop and take multiple programs to unprecedented levels is no fluke. He is a program builder and his record speaks for itself. Joe values the importance of education and applies it to his philosophy of teaching on the court, making him an excellent addition to the University of Portland family."
A native of Portland and a graduate of Gresham High School, Houck's roots lie even deeper in the UP volleyball family. His wife, the former Ann Pinkowski, is a member of the UP Athletic Hall of Fame after a stellar volleyball career (1989-92). She still holds several career records at UP, including kills (1,609) and digs (1,770) as well as single-season records in kills (485, 1989) and kills per game (4.53, 1989).
"My family and I are so excited to have this opportunity," Houck said. "The University of Portland has been a professional target for me for over a decade. There are so many interested and supportive people on the campus and in the volleyball community and I know we will have a program that will develop with our efforts."
Houck began his head coaching career at Tigard High School in 1987 after graduating from Portland State in 1986. As head coach at Sam Barlow High School (1992-95), Houck won three Oregon 4A State Championships. He was named the Oregon High School Coach of the Year five times.
In five seasons (1997-2001) at the helm of the Concordia volleyball program, Houck turned the Cavaliers into a perennial regional power. After a 9-19 rookie campaign, the Cavaliers improved to 15-9 in 1998 before claiming the Cascade Conference title in 1999, finishing with an overall mark of 19-5. In 2000, Concordia went a perfect 16-0 in league play, won the regional title and qualified for the NAIA national tournament for the first time in school history. The Cavaliers finished fifth at nationals and completed the year with a school-record mark of 29-2. In his five seasons at Concordia, Houck compiled a 97-32 overall record, won three conference regular season titles and three conference tournament championships, while advancing to the national tournament three times. He was also named conference coach of the year four times and was the NAIA Region I Coach of the Year in 1999.
"The history and caliber of volleyball in the West Coast Conference gives us a guaranteed opportunity to be tested every time we step out on the floor, and the learning curve when given that environment can truly be dramatic," Houck noted. "I am very aware of the tradition and history of the University and the program, and I am excited to be charged with the direction we head in the future."
The 44-year-old is the director of Precision Transition Volleyball Clinics and has served as the leader of the Spokane Splash and the Portland Volleyball Club. He also founded the Cascade Juniors Volleyball Club in Gresham.
Houck and his wife Ann are the parents of three children - daughters Addison and Hayden, and son Sutton.