Rick Meister, championship-winning softball coach at North Allegheny, dies

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Saturday, August 7, 2021 | 2:07 AM


Former North Allegheny softball coach Rick Meister, who led the Tigers to both WPIAL and PIAA gold, has died. He was 73.

Meister, a retired English teacher, was a stalwart in the school’s athletic department for decades, said North Allegheny athletic director Bob Bozzuto. Meister died Friday after an extended battle with cancer.

“It’s a huge loss to us and our athletic department,” Bozzuto said. “That’s a family member we lost. I talked to him (earlier Friday) and told him how much we loved him.”

Meister’s softball teams won WPIAL titles in 2002, ’03 and ’06, along with a state championship in 2002. He handed off head coaching duties to one of his former players in 2019 but remained a valued presence in the athletic office as recently as last month.

Along with coaching softball, Meister also was a former assistant coach for the school’s girls basketball team and continued to work as a color analyst for online football broadcasts on the North Allegheny Sports Network and TribLive HSSN.

The school recently announced Meister would be inducted into the North Allegheny Hall of Fame as part of the 2021 class. His tenure as NA softball’s coach stretched from 1995-2018. He briefly served as an assistant or co-head coach from 2008-10 but soon returned to the top job.

“He loved his players,” Bozzuto said. “He was able to remember everything about all of them. Up until the very end, he was very, very sharp. All of his players can rest assured he didn’t forget them.”

His most successful softball season was 2002, when the Tigers went 24-3 and won WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA titles. Combined, the team outscored its postseason opponents 24-1, a dominant playoff run that included a 1-0 victory in 10 innings over Neshaminy in the state finals. The Tigers also had a 14-inning win over Baldwin, 1-0, in the WPIAL semifinals.

Bozzuto said Meister was always focused on the details, a trait that showed in the way he kept his cars and lawn meticulously clean.

“You could go into any showroom right now and those cars would be dirty compared to his,” Bozzuto said. “If there was a quarter of an inch of snow on his driveway, he had to make sure there wasn’t a flake.”

That discipline also made him a successful coach.

He thought about softball year round, Bozzuto said, and could tell you his projected batting order in the middle of winter. On game days, his preparation started early in the morning.

“He went down and got the ice, he got the water, he got it all ready, took it down to the field and put it in the dugout — and it wasn’t even 10:30 yet,” Bozzuto said. “I’d say, ‘Rick, the weather isn’t good. It may be snowing here.’ He’d say, ‘That’s OK. I’ll go back and get it.’

“He was very detail oriented.”

Meister was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn, in 2018. Both were dog lovers with an affinity for huskies, Bozzuto said. He is survived by daughters Amy Meister and Christy Lippmann.

He will be honored posthumously at the hall of fame banquet Oct. 7 at The Chadwick in Wexford. The school also will find a way to remember him during softball season, Bozzuto said.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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