Retiring volleyball coach leaves indelible mark in the UNO and Omaha Community

Photo courtesy of UNO Volleyball

San Juana Paramo

After 29 seasons at the helm of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) volleyball program, Rose Shires announced her retirement in early March. As head coach, Shires amassed 510 victories which made her one of only 29 active coaches in the nation last season to achieve 500 wins. Shires has made an indelible mark not only in the UNO community, but the Omaha community as a whole.

Connie Claussen, Athletic Director Emeritus, hired Shires 31 years ago as assistant volleyball coach and soon knew she had a bright future ahead of her.

Within two years, Shires was promoted to head coach and has consistently raised the level of the program and the people around her.

“I knew that she was energetic, I knew she was a people person,” Claussen said. “I knew the student-athletes would like her.”

Claussen said she was looking for a head coach that would communicate well with student-athletes and Shires fit the description perfectly.

“I figured there’s a time to yell at your student-athletes and it has to be a special time when you want to get their attention,” Claussen said. “I saw Rose wasn’t like that. I still see her when she’s coaching, she talks to them. You don’t hear her yelling and screaming.”

Claussen says Shires shares her passion and motivation with her student-athletes, which is evident in their work ethic on and off of the court.

Five years into the program’s move from Division II to Division I, Shires helped Omaha to an appearance in the Summit League Tournament Championship where she also garnered Coach of the Year honors. During the 1996 Division II National Championship season, the program achieved a 35-2 record with Shires.

Shires is deeply involved in the development of the volleyball program, speaking at and conducting several clinics each year.

“She’s done a lot to promote volleyball in Nebraska,” Claussen said. “She has built up our program.”

Academically, Shire’s teams have earned 22 American Volleyball Coaches Association team academic honors, including in the last 19 consecutive years.

“There’s a good rapport with students, she was a student-athlete, too,” Claussen said “You have to have that line between the coach and the student-athletes. I could see they interacted well with her.”

Shires’ impact extends far beyond the court. Claussen said Shires is well loved on and off campus.

“When you’re here for 31 years and 29 as a head coach you meet a lot of people,” Claussen said. “She takes time to meet a lot of people and she’s always happy, smiling.”

Claussen said Shires has become a mentor, not only to the students but to the coaches at UNO as well.

“She kind of took Riv [Amanda Rivera-Eberhart, head softball coach] by her hand and helped her out, made her feel comfortable,” Claussen said. “I know Rick calls her “the mayor.”

Claussen and Shires are very close, Shires retirement didn’t come as a surprise to her.

“I knew she was going to retire; I was hoping maybe she’d go another year or two,” Claussen said. “But I also understood, when I was coaching, I didn’t have to go out recruiting, I didn’t have to do weight room stuff. It was just show up at practice a couple of times a week and play a game. Now recruiting is so, so difficult and takes so much time.”

Claussen said she will miss Shires’ spirit, personality and willingness to always help others the most.

“I will just miss Rose cause she’s always, always happy. She makes me feel happy and I know if I need somebody to help me do something that she’ll do it or she’ll find somebody that can help me,” Claussen said. “ I really appreciate what she’s done for UNO, and for the community and for our athletic program and miss how much I enjoyed watching her coach and her teams play.”