Illness Hits; Niemeyer Steps Down
By Jeff Linder
CEDAR RAPIDS The high school softball season begins Monday, and it will begin at Waterloo West without Larry Niemeyer.
The nation's winningest coach, Niemeyer is hospitalized with kidney disease. As a result, he has stepped down from his new position without coaching a game.
"He has to look out for his health," said Niemeyer's son, Nick, who was slated to be his father's assistant at West. "It's a very tough situation. He was really looking forward to this. He feels like he has let people down."
Niemeyer piled up a career record of 2,089-429 in 52 seasons at Adel and Cedar Rapids Jefferson. He was relieved of his duties at Jefferson after the 2012 season.
He won four state championships – the 1970 fall title at Adel, then three summer titles at Jefferson (1983, 1997 and 1998). He coached Jefferson to the state tournament 18 times.
His final season at Jefferson netted a 36-6 record. He missed nearly half the season due to his kidney ailment.
Niemeyer also coached Jefferson to the 1993 girls' basketball state championship.
West Athletics Director Tony Pappas hired Niemeyer in October. Sunday, he was scrambling to locate a coach on an interim or full-time basis.
"I'm going to make some calls, and I'm going to meet with our parents this afternoon," Pappas said. "We'll get somebody in place.
"I'm sorry this has happened. Larry was rejuvenated and excited to coach up here. He assembled a good staff. But sometimes, these things happen. He's got to take care of his health and his family first."
Jefferson's softball complex will be renamed in Niemeyer's honor this summer. Original plans were for a May 28 ceremony, when West comes to town, but that could change to a different date, according to Brian Erbe, Niemeyer's successor at Jefferson.
Nick Niemeyer has stepped down as a West assistant.
"I just want to spend a lot of time with Dad," he said.