Through the first minute and a half of her postgame press conference following the Hurricanes’ 72-67 win over Jackson State, Miami head coach Katie Meier made no mention of her program-topping 304th win.
She instead focused on the players and key moments that guided the Canes to their season-opening victory; this is a testament to the unselfish and egoless ideals upon which she has built a coaching career spanning nearly three decades.
Meier began her coaching career at North Carolina Asheville, where she served as an assistant coach during the 1993-94 season. She went on to work as an assistant coach at Tulane and then as a head coach at Charlotte, before arriving at Miami for the 2005-06 season.
“Miami decided to do it the right way in women’s basketball,” Meier said. “They decided to commit to somebody and make it a real healthy, sustained success and that means a lot to me. I give it back to all the people who said yes to some of my visions and yes to some of my goals and yes to some of my dreams when I wasn’t in the room.”
With her 304th win, Meier passed former Miami women’s head coach Ferne Labati as the winningest coach in Hurricanes basketball history. Labati was in attendance for Meier’s victory that surpassed the former’s name in Miami’s record books.
“I looked up right before the game and I saw coach Ferne Labati in the stands and I got a little bit emotional,” Meier said. “It was just really amazing that she made that gesture to come.”
Winning clearly has not been Meier’s only priority, as she has transformed Miami’s women’s basketball team both athletically and academically over her 17 years as head coach.
On the court, she has led the Hurricanes to the NCAA tournament eight times, developed five All-Americans, and under Meier’s tutelage, 12 players have earned All-ACC Team postseason accolades. Meier was also named the Associated Press National Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.
“Coach Meier is an amazing coach,” Miami guard Kelsey Marshall said. “I’ve loved playing for her these past four years … This is a big milestone for a coach. I’m just very happy and excited to be a part of it.”
Off the court, Meier’s dedication to academic excellence has aided in preparing her players for life after basketball. Throughout her time at Miami, 12 of her players have been listed on the ACC All-Academic team, and at least one of her athletes has been placed on the ACC honor roll in all of Meier’s 16 seasons.
“We run our program like a family,” Meier said. “[We have] first-year players that are jumping up and down like they’ve played for me for four years … That really means a lot.”
The importance of “family” has been ingrained in Meier’s coaching style through her nearly two decades as the Hurricanes’ coach. She never hesitates to compliment the diverse personalities and unique characters that make up her teams.
“[The players] are really funny,” Meier said in a press conference before the start of this season. “That has really been something that’s keeping me going this year.”
Accolades aside, her love for coaching and the players she mentors has established a gold standard for coaching that will be difficult to replicate concluding Meier’s tenure at Miami.
“I have the greatest job in the world,” Meier said. “I really believe I do.”