Sports

Coach inspires team success

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Sep. 18, 2003 

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Prior to 1993, the IU women's volleyball team had a dismal tradition. The program, which began in 1975, had never finished higher than fifth in Big Ten conference play and had never received a single vote in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

But 10 years ago, the athletic department took a chance on a coach that had only two years of head coaching experience. Under her guidance, the team has gone from one of the worst in the conference to a post-season team.

Katie Weismiller is the winningest coach in IU volleyball history and has completely changed the fortunes of the IU volleyball program during her decade long tenure in Bloomington. Weismiller has led the Hoosiers to three NCAA Tournaments in the last five years, including an appearance in last year's tournament. IU has been to four NCAA Tournaments in the school's history and all have been under Weismiller.

In her first season at IU, Weismiller inherited a team that finished 6-23. Two years later, the Hoosiers finished 16-16, and a year after that finished 20-14 and earned IU's first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Beth Heimann said being able to tell a prospective athlete about the tradition that is being built and the recent success the Hoosier program has had under Weismiller makes recruitment much easier.

"She's a very successful coach, so you want to come and play for her and play for the team and program she has created here," Heimann said.

Before coming to IU, Weismiller spent two seasons as the head coach at Saint Louis University, where she compiled a record of 50-24. At Saint Louis, Weismiller led the Billikens to the 1989 Midwestern Collegiate Conference championship and maintains the best career winning percentage in school history (.676). During her short stint at Saint Louis, Weismiller was not limited to the volleyball court, as she also served as head coach of the school's softball team and received the Midwestern Collegiate Conference's Coach of the Year honors for her work. In 1991, Weismiller left her head coach post at Saint Louis to become an assistant volleyball coach at the University of Florida, where she helped the Gators reach their first ever NCAA Final Four appearance.

Weismiller's work and dedication to her team doesn't stop once the Hoosier players leave the gym.

"She's a great friend, she's a friend to all of us," senior Melissa Brewer said. "I think we all look to her when we need help."

Weismiller's leadership and guidance extends into the classroom as well. Over the past three years, IU volleyball players have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors 25 times.

"I think when you look at the overall record of the team and you look at the academic success, we certainly have made a statement there and as a coach I am probably prouder of those academic achievements," Weismiller said.

In addition to their on-the-court success, Weismiller's teams have earned a reputation for their presence in the community and on campus. Her teams have participated in the Monroe County Adopt-A-Road program, picking up garbage and recyclable items along their adopted road in Bloomington. Other programs they've participated in have included Read Across America, Painting for Shelter, Inc., and the Hoosier Hitters, which are informal clinics for boys and girls ages 6-13.

"The administration, the campus, the community, it's a great place to live and work," Weismiller said. "We've been very fortunate to have great people walk through the doors, and I've had the opportunity to work and learn with a lot of different people. I couldn't be happier."

-- Contact staff writer Matt Glenesk at mglenesk@indiana.edu.

 

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