Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney community is remembering Loper legend Rosella Meier, who passed away on Tuesday, March 13, at her Kearney home. She was 74.
Meier was one of the pioneers of women’s athletics at Kearney State College. Serving as head volleyball coach from 1968-92, she put Loper volleyball on the map. During her tenure, she was part of KSC/UNK’s transition from the AIAW (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) to the NAIA to NCAA Division II. Under her leadership, Loper volleyball was a powerhouse at all three levels. She recounted the program’s early days in a 2016 story.
“Rosella established a great foundation for Loper volleyball while setting a path toward excellence and class that still runs through our program today. Long after her coaching days, she remained a great friend to our team and coaches. She was the consummate Loper and a pioneer in women’s athletics,” said current UNK head volleyball coach Rick Squiers.
The current Loper volleyball team annually hands out the “Rosella Meier Rock of Excellence Award” to the player who earns the most competitive practice points for the entire year. Since Meier was the rock of Loper volleyball since its inception, it only seemed fitting to attach her name to one of the team’s top honors. Next, UNK’s annual fall tournament will now be called the “Rosella Meier Fall Classic.” She agreed to the name change prior to her passing.
A 1965 graduate of KSC, Meier amassed a career record of 643-228 (74 win pct.). At the time of her retirement, her win total was 10th highest in the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association). Fourteen of her teams won at least 30 matches with the 1986 squad (43-15) setting the school record for victories in a single season. That mark still stands.
In 1988, she was one of the first five inductees into the NAIA Volleyball Hall of Fame. Later, she was inducted into the UNK Athletic Hall of Fame.
Her teams twice reached the AIAW National Tournament, finishing seventh in 1975. That fall, KSC had wins over Nebraska, Creighton, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Wichita State. Soon after, Meier led three of her teams to the NAIA National Tournament, where they came in third (1980), fourth (1982) and seventh (1981), respectively.
Kearney State was a member of the CSIC (Central States Intercollegiate Conference) from 1976-89, a league that featured many current MIAA members. Loper volleyball won or tied for the league title nine times. Coaching four NAIA All-Americans, her first NCAA Division II squad went 40-1 in the fall of 1990. That record remains one of the best in D2 history.
Also a teacher at Kearney State and UNK, Meier and her husband, Bill, were part of Zimmerman Printers & Lithographers until 2006. That company served Kearney for 63 years.
Horner Lieske McBride & Kuhl Funeral and Cremation Services is in charge of arrangements.