A Matriarch of Nebraska High School Volleyball Retires
One of the matriarchs of high school volleyball in Nebraska and the architect of the powerful Grand Island Northwest dynasty has coached her final match. Diane Rouzee, who compiled a record of 768-183 in 30 years as the head coach…
One of the matriarchs of high school volleyball in Nebraska and the architect of the powerful Grand Island Northwest dynasty has coached her final match.
Diane Rouzee, who compiled a record of 768-183 in 30 years as the head coach at Northwest, informed her team Sunday night that she was retiring from coaching.
“There are a lot of golf courses out there that need to be played,” Rouzee joked Tuesday afternoon while reflecting on a career that lasted a lot longer than she originally thought it would.
You would be hard pressed to find another coach with the resume Rouzee put together while at Northwest. Her teams were consistently among the best in the state – regardless of class – and always fundamentally sound. Her teams played in a mind-boggling six consecutive Class B state championships in the midst their current streak of 17 straight trips to the state tournament. Those 17 straight trips are tied with Omaha Marian for the longest active streak and ranks fourth all-time, behind other great dynasties Bellevue West (20), Lincoln Pius X (20) and Columbus Scouts (18).
Rouzee said while she is definitely proud of what her teams have accomplished, she said it goes beyond the numbers.
“I’m a numbers freak myself and I would always go through our schedule and try to figure out how many wins we could get and I spent a whole lot of time scouting,” Rouzee said. “But, I measure success a little different than everybody else. I know what (the wins and state tournament appearances) look like on the outside, but so many of those teams really over achieved to accomplish getting to the finals and winning so many matches. We would go out on the court and look across the net and there would be all kinds of Division I and Division II kids across the net from us and we didn’t have that. I feel really good about how we competed.”
Two outstanding players Rouzee had during her time were her daughters – Lyndi and Jenna. Lyndi went on to have an outstanding career at Hastings College and Jenna was an All-American at Nebraska-Kearney. Rouzee’s son Zach was a standout athlete as well, starting as a quarterback on the Northwest football team.
Rouzee’s whole life has revolved around sports in many ways. Back when she was Diane Davidson, she was a multi-sport athlete at Kearney High and went on to play both volleyball and softball at Nebraska-Kearney. Her husband, Dave, spent the better part of 16 years coaching club volleyball and he himself was the son of a long-time volleyball coach – Billie Rouzee, who coached for 32 years at North Platte St. Patrick’s.
“My husband is a good guy and he allowed me to do this – God bless him,” Rouzee said.
Family has always been important to Rouzee, and as she talked about her thankfulness that Dave never expected dinner on the table every night or a perfectly clean house, she also laughed about how she and her daughters used everything from balloons to whatever they could get their hands on to practice setting around the house. And, of course, there were numerous broken things that came from it. She also talked of being torn about trying to keep up with her kids and their activities as they got older. She, however, still marks her kids as one of her great accomplishments.
“I raised three great kids while being a head coach,” Rouzee said. “But, now I’m missing things with my kids and my grandkids and I don’t want to keep missing that. The last few years have been difficult.”
Things from that point of view got even harder for Rouzee this fall. Just one day after beating Hastings in the Class B sub-state round that clinched the Vikings’ 17th straight trip to state, Lyndi’s husband Justin Davenport passed away. The wounds from that are still raw for Rouzee and her family and it brought her decision to retire into clarity after a few years of contemplating it.
“This game has really, really grown in a good direction and I love, love, love the game of volleyball. I’m not going to lose my passion for it,” Rouzee said. “Somebody else needs the chance to lead this program.”