By Brian Boye, Managing Editor
Former Fisher women’s basketball and volleyball coach Phil Kahler passed away on March 17 at the age of 84, leaving behind a legacy for Fisher Athletics.
Fisher was originally a men’s college but became co-educational in 1971. Kahler created and coached the women’s basketball and volleyball teams from 1974 until he retired in 2008. During his tenure, the women’s basketball team compiled an overall record of 797-115 and became the winningest program in Division III with a win percentage of .819.
“I think he really put Fisher on the map in a women’s athletics perspective, obviously because he was the inventor or founder of all that,” said Athletics Director Bob Ward.
Kahler kept things simple and maintained attention to detail. Throughout his entire time at Fisher, Kahler used a typewriter to type individual letters to each player he recruited.
“Phil’s legacy is firmly in place, he is one of the greatest women’s collegiate basketball coaches of all time,” said current men’s and women’s volleyball coach Kelly Greapentrog.
He had a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. During the games, he maintained a calm demeanor and focused on planning and execution. Ward believes these factors made Kahler a coach who was able to coach for decades.
“He seemed to be tough, challenging, and firm on the outside but when you got to know him and if you ask his wife or his daughter he was a loving, nurturing human being,” said associate director of development Norm Kieffer, formerly sports information director for Fisher Athletics.
He made lifelong friends among Fisher administrators and professors, who he enjoyed fishing with.
“I think it’s going to be a legacy of longevity, a legacy of winning, a legacy of flexibility, and a legacy of excellence,” said Ward, who worked closely with Kahler for decades.
Kahler’s funeral took place on March 24 at Fisher’s Hermance Family Chapel of St. Basil the Great. According to Ward, he foresees Fisher to name an area in his honor, potentially the locker rooms used by the women’s basketball and volleyball teams.