Rick Meister, championship-winning softball coach at North Allegheny, dies
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.”
I was lucky to know Coach Meister as a teacher, coach, and colleague over the span of 23 years. He poured his heart into every day. Coach impacted the lives of so many, and loved each of us like his own daughters. The NA family lost one of the greats. Rest In Peace, Coach. https://t.co/adFAw9tkAg
— Morgan Vescovi (@mrs_vescovi17) August 7, 2021
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.
Coach Meister, you made a big difference in my life and in a lot of other young ladies on and off the field. Thank you for believing in me. You will be greatly missed! ♥️ pic.twitter.com/ifivRAkZOt
— Rachel Martindale (@rachmartindale4) August 7, 2021
Easily the greatest coach I ever played under – even as a teacher and a coach he always felt like a close friend. He never failed to put a smile on my face, cared immensely about his players and taught me things that went far beyond the softball field.
He will be forever missed https://t.co/9hSuO7ZU32
— Audra Sapp (@audraxsapp) August 7, 2021
The North Allegheny family lost a great coach and a great man with the passing of softball coach Rick Meister. Thank you to @CHarlan_Trib for this beautifully written article about Rick. He impacted so many lives and will be sorely missed. https://t.co/WE1MStU0iK
— NATigers (@NATigerAthletic) August 7, 2021
Mr. Meister was my teacher first, and later, one of the first to welcome me back to @NATigerAthletic. He was a thoughtful and kind man that cared deeply about his students and players. He will be greatly missed. https://t.co/dEfdlZ6AZn
— Chris Cafardi (@ChrisCafardi) August 7, 2021
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: North Allegheny
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