TWIN FALLS — Legendary College of Southern Idaho head volleyball coach Heidi Cartisser has died, a stunning and devastating blow to one of the nation’s elite volleyball programs, which saw their coach as a mentor on and off the court.
According to a Facebook post attributed to her family, she died in her sleep. Cartisser was 44.
“Our whole staff is in complete and total shock,” CSI athletic director Joel Bate said. “It is a huge loss. It’s a loss of a great person, first of all. It’s a loss of a great coach, a loss of a friend, a loss of a teacher, a loss of a mentor. She taught more than just volleyball.”
Cartisser, who played for CSI from 1991 to 1993, had just finished her 22nd season as a collegiate head volleyball coach and her 12th at CSI. She led the Golden Eagles to NJCAA titles in 2009, 2012 and 2015, a third-place finish in 2014 and a second-place finish this past season. Her record at CSI was 359-89, and her teams made six NJCAA tournaments.
Cartisser’s teams won seven Region 18 championships, and she was named the Region 18 Coach of the Year four times. She also earned three American Volleyball Coaches Association West Region Coach of the Year awards, and she received District Coach of the Year honors this fall.
“We had lessons of really what a coach is. A student-centered individual that gets a lot out of her players,” Bate said. “She was just a great teacher of all the things behind the scenes that need to get done.”
Marie Fujii was a setter for CSI from 2011 to 2012. Those were the best two years of her life, she said over the phone Tuesday.
Fujii grew up in Hawaii and went back after attending CSI. Those were her only two years living on the mainland, and she struggled to adjust.
Cartisser made Fujii feel right at home. The coach would often host team dinners, and though practices could be grueling, Fujii enjoyed them.
Cartisser’s motto was, “Make good choices,” a line she frequently uttered after practices. Fujii didn’t always heed that advice, but Cartisser helped steer her focus away from parties and toward the classroom.
“She helped guide me to be the person I am today. She molded me,” Fujii said. “There was something about Heidi, it’s unexplainable. She had this character about her that made you feel like you were her own child.”
Cartisser lost a significant amount of weight in recent years, which made Tuesday’s news all the more shocking to Fujii and E’Laisah Young, a freshman middle blocker on this year’s team.
Young grew up in Indiana, and like Fujii, she had a difficult time adjusting to her new, faraway home. Cartisser helped Young gain comfort in Twin Falls, giving her “a family away from my family,” Young said.
Cartisser was a disciplined coach, Young said, and she often yelled at her players. But Young never felt intimidated or demeaned. Cartisser always seemed to be coming from a good place, and she valued player growth above all else. When Young felt homesick or frustrated with her performance on the volleyball court, Cartisser helped guide her in a happier direction.
“I’m still in shock. It doesn’t seem real,” said Young, who spoke over the phone from Indiana. “I feel like when I go back, it’ll hit me, and I’ll break down. And when I break down, the one person that helps me with my breakdowns won’t be there anymore.”
Cartisser’s husband, Jim, has been an assistant coach under her since she took over the program in 2006. They have five children: Cody, Canyon, Cason, Cailey and Carli.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Several current and former CSI volleyball players have expressed their sadness and gratitude toward Cartisser on Twitter:
TWIN FALLS — Twin Falls will be losing another retail giant at the canyon rim in 2018.
Old Navy will be closing its doors at the end of January, a company spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
“The Twin Falls Old Navy store that opened in 2002 will close the end of January as a result of lease expiration,” Adrienne O’Hara said in an email. “We have enjoyed being a part of the community and will explore future opportunities to be a retail fixture in the market.”
The company did not answer questions about how many people are employed at the store.
Macy’s at the Magic Valley Mall had previously announced it intends to close at the end of March.
TWIN FALLS — On the heels of its success bringing several new businesses to Twin Falls this year, Woodbury Corp. says more are on the way.
The real estate management and development company announced Wednesday that it will introduce a restaurant, a men’s and boys’ haircut business and a designer goods store at two developments in Twin Falls. The company had already brought in a Blaze Pizza, Charming Charlie and Eyemart Express in 2017.
“This is the first time any of these restaurants and businesses will be setting up shop in this area, and we hope the people of Twin Falls will appreciate the additional variety of shopping and dining options,” Woodbury Corp. President Randy Woodbury said in a statement.
The new businesses, he said “will further enhance the already growing local economy by bringing even more employment opportunities to the area.”
The Habit Burger Grill is a fast-food chain known for its bread, which it bakes daily. It also uses fresh produce and charbroiled patties seared on a cast iron grill.
Sports Clips is a national franchise dedicated to men’s and boys’ hair care.
Both these businesses are expected to open sometime after Jan. 1 in the Canyon Park West shopping center, near Bed, Bath and Beyond.
HomeGoods will be moving in to the Canyon Park East shopping center, which compliments Canyon Park West with stores such as TJ Maxx and Sportsman’s Warehouse. HomeGoods is a national chain of home furnishing stores.
The store will be opening in an existing building in late summer or fall, a Woodbury Corp. spokeswoman confirmed. Earlier this week, Old Navy informed the Times-News it planned to close at the end of January.
BURLEY — The man who police say confessed to shooting another man to death in a robbery gone wrong was arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder Friday.
Luis Gabriel Ponce, 21, is also charged with felony counts of attempted robbery and burglary. He is held on $2 million bond.
Cassia County Sheriff deputies discovered 58-year-old Christopher A. Fassett’s body under a car at his shop Wednesday evening. Fassett owned Fassett Transmission, 434 West Main St.
Court documents say Ponce went to the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday to tell deputies that he had seen Fassett the day before. Upon questioning from deputes, Ponce told them he shot Fassett after asking him for money.
Deputies said Ponce admitted he planned robbing money from Fassett.
Ponce said he had not worked for two months, and he knew Fassett had money at the shop, court records said. He wore gloves when he entered the shop and carried a gun in a holster on his hip. He told officers he took one of the gloves off when he shot Fassett because his finger wouldn’t fit inside the gun’s trigger guard.
When Ponce asked Fassett for money, he became angry. Ponce went outside and loaded a round in the gun’s chamber, then stuck the gun in his sweatshirt pocket.
He went back inside the shop and shot Fassett, who was lying on a creeper under the vehicle, in the stomach. He told police that Fassett then asked him “why?”
He told Fassett he shot him because he needed money and Ponce then shot Fassett in the head “to finish him off.”
Ponce locked the front door and wiped the doorknob off and he moved Fassett’s body a little but he couldn’t find his wallet or money, court records said.
According to the records, Ponce told police he knew Fassett kept money in shoe boxes in the apartment area of the shop, where Fassett lived, so he went through some boxes but couldn’t find any money. He said Fassett had $20 but Ponce had given him that money.
In the end, he said, he didn’t steal anything from the shop.
Court documents say Ponce told police he was going to leave through the front door but remembered the business across the street had a camera so he went out the garage door and walked toward the library. He said he threw the gloves in a garbage can and put the gun in his bedroom at his home.
When Ponce went to the sheriff’s office he was still wearing his clothing from the day he shot Fassett, police said.
Officers took the gloves and the gun for evidence.
A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 29 in Cassia County Magistrate Court.