OBITUARY: Rosella Meier was pioneer of women’s athletics at Kearney State

Rosella Meier CoachingKEARNEY – Former Loper volleyball coach and UNK Athletic Hall of Famer Rosella Meier died Tuesday at her Kearney home. She was 74.

One of the pioneers of women’s athletics at Kearney State College, she served as head volleyball coach from 1968-92.

During her tenure, she was part of Kearney State’s and the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s transition from the 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.

Rosella Meier
Rosella Meier

“Rosella established a great foundation for Loper volleyball while setting a path toward excellence and class that still runs through our program today,” said current UNK head volleyball coach Rick Squiers. “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.”

The UNK volleyball team annually hands out one of its top honors, the “Rosella Meier Rock of Excellence” award, to the player who earns the most competitive practice points for the entire year.

UNK’s fall tournament will also be named 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. At the time of her retirement, her win total was 10th highest in the 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).

Kearney State was a member of the 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 full-time 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.

-30-Rosella Meier Hall of Fame Plaque

Former Loper volleyball coach Rosella Meier recalls program’s infancy, growth of women’s sports

Rosella “Zell” M. Meier, 74, of Kearney died Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at her home.
Funeral Services will be Saturday, March 24, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. at First Lutheran Church in Kearney. Reverands Michelle and Rick Carlson will officiate and burial will be at Kearney Cemetery. Visitation is planned Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Horner Lieske McBride & Kuhl Funeral and Cremation Services in Kearney. Memorials are suggested to First Lutheran Church or the University of Nebraska Foundation to support volleyball scholarships at UNK. Online condolences may be submitted by visiting Horner Lieske McBride & Kuhl in Kearney are in charge of arrangements.
She was born Nov. 27, 1943, in Kearney to Gilbert and Esther (Schake) Zimmerman. She grew up in Kearney and attended Zion Lutheran Grade School then graduated from Kearney High School in. She then graduated from Kearney State College in 1965 and taught school in Minden for 2 years.
On June 4, 1969, she married William “Bill” Meier in Kearney. She obtained her master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln then taught Physical Education at Kearney State College.
In 1969 she was hired as the first volleyball coach at Kearney State College. When she retired after 24 years of coaching in 1993, her teams had compiled a 643-228 record. Her 643 victories is 10th on the all-time coaching list of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. In 1988, she was one of the first five to be inducted into the NAIA Volleyball Hall of Fame.
After retirement from UNK she worked with her husband as owners and operators of Zimmerman Printers in Kearney until they sold the business in 2006. She and her husband became interested in country dancing and taught country dance at the college. In 2007 they opened Meier’s Ballroom in Gibbon, where they taught country line dancing and hosted many events. The last function at the ballroom before they sold it in 2017 was to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
She was a member of First Lutheran Church in Kearney and she and her husband enjoyed traveling and motorcycle riding.
Surviving relatives include her husband Bill of Kearney; daughters, Kelli Meier of Phoenix, Arizona, and Kambi Jecminek and husband Nathan and grandchildren Taylor and Maximus of Denver.
She was preceded in death by her parents.

Rosella Meier Coaching

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