Launi Meili returns as head coach of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s rifle program. Meili (pronounced LAW-nee MY-lee) has been coaching the Academy’s rifle teams since 2007. Meili came to the Academy from Nebraska, where she coached for five years.
“Coach Meili brings a wealth of experience as not only a proven NCAA Division I head coach, but a world-class competitor as well,” said former Associate Athletics Director for Programs Colonel Billy Walker, USAF Retired.
“We were very impressed with her understanding of the Academy and our mission to produce leaders of character and how intercollegiate athletics contributes to that mission. I’m quite certain Coach Meili will develop us into one of the elite programs in the country.”
In 2015, Meili led the Academy’s rifle team to a 17-6 team record and its second NCAA team qualification. Air Force finished seventh in the country, and senior Meredith Carpentier (the only AFA shooter to qualify in 2014) and junior Tyler Rico earned NRA All-American honors as well as receiving honors from the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association.
Since joining Air Force, three cadets have earned All-America honors, 16 times, under Meili.
In 2013, Air Force made its first NCAA appearance since 2003. The rifle team finished fifth overall in the NCAA Rifle National Championships and Carpentier and Rico were selected All-Americans (first and second team).
Since joining the newly-formed Patriot Rifle Conference in 2014, Air Force finished second in the conference in 2014 and fourth in 2015.
While at Nebraska, Meili led the all-women Cornhuskers to a No. 2 national ranking in the 2004-05 season. The team finished fifth at the NCAA Championships in 2007. While at Nebraska, she coached 21 All-Americans, an NCAA individual champion and placed seven women on the U.S. Development team. In addition, Meili led Nebraska to a pair of Great American Rifle Conference Championships, while earning coach of the year honors in 2006.
As a shooting competitor, Meili shot for the U.S. Shooting team for 10 years. In that time, Meili participated in two Olympic Games, two Pan American games and a World Championship. During her career, she produced three world records, three Olympic records, a world team championship and the Olympic Gold medal in Barcelona in 1992, becoming the first American woman to ever win gold in smallbore.
She also placed 11th in air rifle in Barcelona after finishing sixth in air rifle and seventh in three-position rifle at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. She remains the only woman to compete in both events at two Olympics. Meili is also a seven-time national champion in three-position rifle, setting three world shooting records and numerous national records in her outstanding shooting career.
After retiring from competitive shooting in 1992, Meili spent 10 years coaching junior and elite level shooters and instructing athletes at shooting clinics and camps nationwide. She served as assistant coach for the U.S. National Rifle Team from 1997 to 2000 and is now helping coach the residents at the Olympic Training Center. Meili helped produce the International Coach Certification Program, the highest level of coaching credential recognized by USA Shooting and the National Rifle Association. During the 2004-05 season, Meili was recognized for her outstanding achievement to the sport by being inducted into the International Shooting Hall of Fame. In 2014, Meili was the inaugural ISSF Junior Cups coach, a new Championship series featuring competitions for junior athletes in Olympic and Youth Olympic events, with the competitions held in Suhl, Germany.
Meili earned her master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Idaho in 2001. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and exercise physiology from Eastern Washington University. She has written “Rifle: Steps to Success”, published by Human Kinetics in 2008. She has also created the “mental training workshop” taught to athletes, coaches, and business personnel in the US and Japan.
A native of Spokane, Wash., Meili and her husband, Kevin Geddes, have a son, Bryce Owen.
“Over the last few years we’ve made it onto the national stage. I’m proud of the team and all they have accomplished together and individually. While we’ve been in the top five as a team, we have had four team members make the U.S. National Team, with three shooting in World and International competition representing not only USAFA, but the United States. We are heading in the right direction and will continue to improve as our incoming classes continues to get stronger and stronger.”