Major League Soccer star Craig Waibel, a starting defender for the hometown and back-to-back MLS champion Houston Dynamo, is in his third season with the Rice soccer coaching staff. He serves as the program's volunteer assistant.
Waibel brings almost a decade of elite MLS experience to Rice. He assists the Owls in a variety of roles, all while juggling an active pro-playing career at the highest level in the country.
Not only did Waibel help jump-start the city's newest pro franchise in the MLS' Western Division, he helped lead the Dynamo to the 2006 and 2007 league championships. Waibel played both of the respective MLS Finals, including two overtime periods in the 2006 championship. This year Waibel is part of a Dynamo back-line that is among the best in the MLS.
Craig Waibel on Rice soccer...
"Soccer is the greatest game in the world and I'm always trying to learn as much as I can. It has been great coaching at the college level and I have learned a lot from the winning coaching staff here at Rice."
A native of Portland, Ore., Waibel (32) has played in the MLS for eight years. He was a four-year letterman and a 1999 graduate of the University of Washington, where he was named first team all-conference and earned all-region honors. He was selected in the first round of the 1999 pro draft and made his MLS debut in 2000.
Waibel is no stranger to the coaching side of soccer. He has trained a number of youth teams in San Jose, Calif., and organized soccer camps around the Bay area. His wife, Julie, works in the Rice Athletics Department as the assistant director of stewardship & special events.