Legendary College of Southern Idaho volleyball coach Heidi Cartisser died Tuesday, the school has confirmed, and according to a Facebook post attributed to her family, the 44-year-old passed away in her sleep at home.
“Our whole staff is in complete and total shock,” CSI athletic director Joel Bate said Tuesday afternoon. “It is a huge loss. It’s a loss of a great person, first of all. It’s a loss of a great coach, a loss of a friend, a loss of a teacher, a loss of a mentor. She taught more than just volleyball.”
Cartisser, who played for CSI from 1991-93, just finished her 22nd season as a collegiate head coach and her 12th at CSI. She led the Golden Eagles to National Junior College Athletic Association titles in 2009, 2012 and 2015, and to a runner-up finish this season.
Many of her players took to Twitter to express their shock and sadness.
Sophomore outside hitter Jojo Kruize tweeted, “I’m so heartbroken. I love you coach. Rest in Love,” and freshman libero Makayla Bradford also shared, “Rest in Love coach Heidi.”
“It doesn’t seem real to me. Had the pleasure to play for and know the best person and coach out there,” Bradford also tweeted.
Sophomore middle blocker Maysie Rongen said on Twitter, “I’m in such shock. ... my heart is devastated.”
Cartisser’s record at CSI was 359-89, and her teams made six NJCAA tournaments and won seven Region 18 championships. She was named the Region 18 Coach of the Year four times and also earned three American Volleyball Coaches Association West Region Coach of the Year awards.
“We had lessons of really what a coach is. A student-centered individual that gets a lot out of her players,” Bate said. “She was just a great teacher of all the things behind the scenes that need to get done.”
Former right side/middle blocker Ashelyn Jones tweeted: “Kisses to the sky! For the best coach/leader/friend/2nd mom us CSI volleyball girls have ever loved and known!!!”
Cartisser’s husband, Jim, has been an assistant coach under her since she took over the program in 2006. They have five children: Cody, Canyon, Cason, Cailey and Carli.
Funeral arrangements had not been announced as of Tuesday night.