Since its beginnings 16 years ago, she has been the guiding force behind the Missouri State University-West Plains Lady Grizzly volleyball program.
But on Dec. 31, Lady Grizzly Head Coach Trish Kissiar-Knight will hang up her Grizzly blue for the colors of a new school.
Knight is leaving the Lady Grizzlies to accept the head coaching position for the women's volleyball team at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Her first day on the job there will be Jan. 3, 2009.
"This has been a labor of love, coaching the Missouri State-West Plains Lady Grizzlies, but the Texas Tech position is an awesome opportunity," Knight said. "I built the West Plains High School program, then this one, so West Plains has been my home for 27 years. I will miss it tremendously. It's hard to leave, but I wanted to make a career change and this opportunity arose. I'm excited to go to this level to see what I can do."
"Today, Coach Trish Kissiar-Knight announced that she has accepted a position with Texas Tech. I would like to join our community in wishing her all the best as she leaves Missouri State University-West Plains," Chancellor Drew Bennett said. "For 16 years, Coach Knight has led our Lady Grizzly volleyball team, amassing a record of 676-170-3, earning 10 consecutive Region 16 championships and making 10 consecutive appearances in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Women's National Volleyball Championship tournament."
"Because of everything Trish Knight has accomplished, we always knew this day would probably come," dean of student services/athletic director Herb Lunday said. "Nevertheless, it is never easy to say 'so long' to a person of such incredible talent. Trish has reported to me for the past 16 years and throughout that time, she has also been a good friend. We will miss her very much."
Knight has been the only head coach of the Lady Grizzly volleyball program, coming on board in 1993 after a successful 14-year tenure as head volleyball coach at West Plains High School.
She quickly established the Lady Grizzly program as a power in the junior college ranks, reaching the region championship match in the team's first season.
The Lady Grizzlies went on to win the region championship in 1999, and they have successfully defended that title for the past nine seasons.
Knight led the Lady Grizzlies to their first NJCAA national tournament in 1999, finishing eighth in that inaugural appearance.
Since then, they've returned every season, reaching the championship match in 2002 and 2003.
Knight has earned 12 Region 16 Coach of the Year honors, 10 NJCAA District Coach of the Year honors, two American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Tachikara Junior College/Community College Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors, and was elected to the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005. She also was named Most Caring Coach by USAToday Weekend Magazine in 2005, and was inducted to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in February 2008.
She has developed 25 NJCAA All-Americans, including 13 first-team selections; eight NJCAA Academic All-Americans, including three Distinguished Academic All-Americans; and the Grizzlies have received the NJCAA's Fall Academic Team of the Year honor four times (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006). She won her 600th game as a collegiate coach in 2006.
Knight will be going to a Texas Tech program that finished the 2008 season 5-25 and 0-19 in the Big 12 Conference.
"This will be a huge challenge for me, but I'm looking forward to getting busy rebuilding the program," she said. "The Red Raiders are in one of the strongest conferences in the country. Two of its members, Texas and Nebraska, made the NCAA Final Four in volleyball this season. I hope to continue to have a great relationship with the Lady Grizzly program as we build a new program at Texas Tech, and I wish the Lady Grizzlies and Missouri State-West Plains all the best."
Bennett said a search for a new head coach for the Lady Grizzly volleyball program will begin after the first of the year.
"Coach Knight has helped Missouri State-West Plains establish a program that is recognized throughout the country," Bennett praised. "On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of Missouri State-West Plains, I would like to thank coach Knight for a great job and say 'good luck' in the future as she moves on to advance her career."