Former Jacksonville volleyball star Caroline Neisler dies after battle with leukemia
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
May 15, 2013 | 32284 views |  0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Caroline Neisler played for North Alabama for three years. (University of North Alabama photo)
Caroline Neisler played for North Alabama for three years. (University of North Alabama photo)
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Former Jacksonville High volleyball standout Caroline Neisler died Wednesday from complications from acute myeloid leukemia, just six months after she switched colleges to be closer to family.

She played volleyball at North Alabama for three seasons, before transferring to Samford in December.

“It doesn’t seem like long, but as the years go by you miss your family and we’ve always been a close family,” said her mother, Merry Neisler. “She is one of 19 first cousins just on my side of the family. But we’ve always been close knit.

“When we celebrate, it’s always family event. Whoever is the birthday child got to pick their favorite meal and when Caroline was little her favorite meal would be something like spaghetti noodles, rice and mac and cheese. And even though all three are a starch, that’s what she’d get.”

Shortly after transferring, Caroline became sick. She was diagnosed with leukemia May 1.

The funeral service will be Sunday at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville at 3 p.m. with visitation at 1.

“There’s so much I could say about Caroline,” Jacksonville volleyball coach

David Clark said. “The biggest thing about Caroline was she made our program and everyone around it better because of who she was as a person.

“She always gave 120 percent no matter what the situation was and always welcomed people. I never saw her treat anyone without respect and without kindness and I think that made her the person she was.”

Neisler started for Clark her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She helped the Golden Eagles to the Class 4A state championship in 2007 and 2008 and runner-up in 2009. She made all-state second team as a junior and first team as a senior. She graduated in 2010 after signing with UNA.

When Neisler wasn’t on the court, she enjoyed being outdoors and participating in water sports while. Her mother said she was adventurous even at a young age, which earned her the nickname “Scrappy.”

“She got her nickname when she was about 14 months old,” Merry Neisler said.

“We lived in Pennsylvania and were having a community picnic and people had their lawn chairs spread out and Caroline would walk from one lawn chair to another. She’d get to one, climb in it, lean to one side and the whole chair would fall over.

“Caroline just got up and went over to the next lawn chair. One of my neighbors looked at me and my husband David and said, ŒThat is one of the scrappiest little girls I’ve ever seen.’”

Neisler also went on mission trips with her church, First Baptist of Jacksonville, each summer.

“There were many summers she could go on a medical mission trip to

Honduras,” Merry Neisler said. “She’d be there for about a week and would usually go with a sister, her father and about 30 other people. It was an opportunity to go into a village that hadn’t had medical care and it was also a chance to preach the gospel. It was really important for her.”

Of her two sisters, Caroline was set to become the second to play at

Samford, following Elizabeth, who will graduate Saturday with a degree in exercise science. Katie, the youngest daughter, is a junior at Jacksonville

High and has committed to play at Samford.

“They’re special people from a special family,” Clark said. “They really took us to the next step with their involvement and the family being around.

Not only were they talented, but they were good people that people wanted to spend time with.”

She also is survived by her father, David, and a brother, Allen.

Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star
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