A quarter-century removed from the last time she wore an Eastern Washington University Eagles volleyball jersey and was a dominant player in the Big Sky Conference, Kim Exner is still a force in the sport.
Exner, from Vernon, a 1995 Clarence Fulton Secondary grad, will be inducted into the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame on July 22 in Spokane, Wash., a 20-minute drive from the EWU campus in Cheney, where she starred for the Eagles.
“It’s been more emotional than I expected,” said Exner, now 45, married to former NFL quarterback Timm Rosenbach, and a mother of two daughters, who works in case management for Veteran Services in Missoula, Mont., of the Hall call. “I, of course, am thrilled and honoured to be considered among the greats. The Big Sky Conference is a tough volleyball conference and a lot of incredible players have cycled through it.”
Congratulations to Eagle Volleyball legend Kim Exner on being inducted into the Big Sky Hall of Fame!— EWU Athletics 🦅 (@EWUAthletics) March 30, 2023
DETAILS 📰 https://t.co/10w4ILtXux
Get tickets to the @BigSkyConf HOF Banquet at @NorthernQuest! 🎟️ https://t.co/5XPobJPVIR #GoEags #BigSky | @EWUVB pic.twitter.com/FWNFj7Oq4q
Exner led Eastern’s volleyball program to an amazing 46-12 record during her final two seasons in 1997 and 1998 as EWU went 13-3 twice in conference play. They won a share of the Big Sky regular season title in 1997 and an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament in 1998, her final season with EWU.
She was the unanimous selection for Big Sky Conference MVP in 1998 and co-MVP in 1997, earning First Team All-Conference honours three times. Exner also earned American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Region VIII accolades for her junior and senior seasons.
At the conclusion of her four-year collegiate career, she was the Big Sky leader in kills with 1,860 (4.43 per game). She was the first player in conference history to win AVCA National Player of the Week (Sept. 14, 1998), winning Big Sky Player of the Week honours five times as a senior and 11 times overall.
Exner went on to coach at Eastern, play professionally in Europe and twice compete with the Canadian National Team. As part of the celebration for the 25th anniversary of the Big Sky Conference for women in the 2013-14 school year, she was selected as No. 12 on the list of the league’s 25 Greatest Women’s Athletes.
Exner was inducted into the EWU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
“My time at EWU was so special and all my experiences and relationships I took away from there are really the best rewards,” she said. “I truly had all the best people alongside me for those four years and still with me today. I am still very close with my teammates and coaches.
“My parents were always extremely supportive. I had wonderful coaches all through high school – Sharon Shaigec, obviously, and Dennis and Barb Murdoch. I was shown a lot of support and given many opportunities to have a lot of success (a phenomenal setter never hurts either…also a Canadian). Everything after that is icing on the cake.”
Exner doesn’t play much volleyball anymore, save in her Missoula backyard with her volleyball-playing daughter – the other child plays soccer – and maybe a little beach action. She’s taken up hockey and mountain biking.
“I try to stick to things that are new, and I can only get better at,” she said. “It’s been hard to get better at volleyball these days. The drive doesn’t really go away but my body hasn’t gotten the message yet.”
Established in 2020, the Big Sky Hall of Fame serves to honour those who have made outstanding contributions to Big Sky athletics as a student-athlete, coach and/or administrator. This year’s class is the second to be inducted; the first was announced in 2020 but delayed celebration until last year due to COVID-19. Exner and former EWU football player Michael Roos are two of a 14-person 2023 class and are the first Eagles to be recognized.