Basketball Coaching Legend Don Meyer
On September 5, 2008, Don Meyer, the men's basketball coach at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, was heading up a convoy of six cars toward a team preseason retreat. Apparently falling asleep at the wheel, Meyer drifted over a lane and hit a semi-truck head-on going 50 mph. In the crash, all his left-side ribs were broken, he lost his spleen and parts of his intestines, and he endured multiple compound fractures of his left leg. Two weeks later, doctors amputated that leg below-knee.
As if that wasn't enough, when opening him up, surgeons discovered cancer in his liver. At the time, 64-year-old Meyer was only 11 victories shy of passing Bobby Knight as the all-time win leader in men's college basketball history.
"I wouldn't be alive today if it hadn't been for the team," Meyer said in a telephone interview. "I owe them an awful lot. They were right there, keeping me awake (until help arrived) and dialing 911 to get the helicopter there. Now they still keep me going. I don't think about all this other stuff (such as cancer and an amputation) when I'm thinking about them."
Using a manual wheelchair, Coach Meyer returned to his job for a November 18 contest against Mount Marty College, a 98-57 victory.
Where does he get his strength? "I have to be strong for our team now," he said. "When alone with my wife, I might not be as strong, and I might break down and cry and wonder how I'm going to deal with (the cancer). When you are with people you work with, it's easier to be strong."
He expressed a much greater appreciation, understanding, and empathy for below-knee amputees. He doesn't have all the answers, he said, and has been just as scared as anyone would be. He lamented not being able to do many things once taken for granted, such as taking the old newspapers out for recycling to help his wife. Around home, he uses a walker as much as possible.
As for passing Knight, Meyer said, "The only important thing now is the next practice. It's a day by day thing. It's the team at hand that's the most important. If you take care of that, those other things (such as winning) will take care of themselves."
Next week: How Coach Meyer copes.
Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.
Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.
Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com
Placer County News HeadlinesRoseville Paying 20 Percent More for ThisRoseville, CA, - Roseville gas prices dipped again slightly this past week offering motorists a slight reprieve since the gas tax went into effect on November 1
263,000 Acres Already Torched in Southern California FiresCalifornia Fire Updates 2017: Over 9,000 firefighters remain on the line, successfully making progress in containment of several of the fires that sparked last week in southern California
WinterWonderGrass Music and Brew Festival Tickets On SaleOlympic Valley, Calif., - Silhouetted against the snowy Sierra Nevada, WinterWonderGrass Festival returns for its 4th year at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows with headlining artists
TobyMac Tour Coming to Sacramento and RenoSacramento,CA, - Seven-time GRAMMY winner TobyMac will once again bring his dynamic "HITS DEEP Tour" to 29 markets next year, alongside a talent-packed line up
Gold Country Wildlife Rescue Seeks Volunteers and InternsAUBURN - Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is seeking the assistance of dedicated individuals to help support animals in need.
All-new Volkswagen Atlas a roomy SUVRoseville, CA,- Looking to fill what it considered a void in its sport utility vehicle offerings, Volkswagen developed the 2018 Atlas.
Lower Cost Electricity Anticipated for Some Placer County ResidentsPLACER COUNTY, CA - In December, residents and businesses will receive the first of several notices informing them about the coming change in their electric energy supply
Groundbreaking for Interstate 80 / Highway-65 Interchange ImprovementsRoseville, CA, - The Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA), in partnership with Caltrans, the South Placer Regional Transportation Authority, the Federal Highway Administration
Merry Days & Holly Nights at Squaw Valley Alpine MeadowsOlympic Valley, Calif.- Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is celebrating its second annual Merry Days & Holly Nights, two weeks of spirited events and activities December 16-31.
Southern California Fires Fueled by WindsCalifornia Fire Updates 2017: Over 8,500 firefighters have made significant progress on the wildfires burning in southern California. As containment lines continue to be reinforced, many evacuations have been lifted
$111 Million Budget Adopted by PCWA BoardAUBURN, Calif. , - At its December 7 meeting, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors adopted the Agency's 2018 budget
Woman Found Dead in the American River CanyonAuburn, CA,- The Placer County Sheriff's Coroner's Office has confirmed the identity of the woman found in the American River canyon Wednesday as Yin Wong, 33, of Sacramento.