Legendary Iowa softball coach Larry Niemeyer dies

Dargan Southard
Des Moines Register

Larry Niemeyer, who established a remarkable legacy in Iowa and beyond as the winningest high school softball coach of all time, died Thursday night. He was 84.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette was the first to confirm Niemeyer's death. Niemeyer won 2,089 softball games over a decorated career at Adel and Cedar Rapids Jefferson, while also racking up 871 wins and a state title as Jefferson's girls basketball coach.  

"If you played for him, you had an advocate for life," IGHSAU assistant director Jason Eslinger said. "He really took care of his kids. If you survived him, he was in your corner for the rest of your life."

Niemeyer's most emphatic seasons came in 1983, 1997 and 1998, which all ended with Class 3A softball titles at Jefferson. He also won a girls' basketball championship with the J-Hawks in 1993 and is currently Iowa's No. 3 all-time leader in girls basketball wins. 

Larry Niemeyer, who coached softball  more than 50 years at Adel and Cedar Rapids Jefferson, died Thursday.

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"He was a fixture at the state softball tournament," Eslinger said. "He'd come every year whether his team made it or not. He had such great passion for this game and for the Iowa girl too. It's a big loss for softball in Iowa."

Niemeyer coached at Adel in the early 1960s until moving to Cedar Rapids in 1978. He coached softball at Jefferson until 2012. The J-Hawks' home field was renamed Larry Niemeyer Field in 2013. 

"He's a giant," Eslinger said. "That's the best thing you can say about Larry. His kids loved playing for him. He's tough on them, but he made his kids better and the game of softball better."

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.