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.
LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.
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 HeadlinesKing Fire Arson Suspect ArrestedWayne Allen Huntsman, 37, of Pollock Pines was booked into the El Dorado County Jail for arson on Wednesday.
California Statewide Fire Summary (9.18.14)Today, over 6,600 firefighters continue to battle 10 major wildfires burning in California. Several thousand residents remain evacuated. Yesterday, firefighters fully contained the Black Fire
King Fire Updates: Blaze Rapidly Expands to Over 70,000 AcresEl Dorado County, CA -- The King Fire continues to grow and now has consumed over 70,000 acres with only 5% containment
Roseville California Crime Brief (9.18.14)Police crime brief report for Roseville, California September 18, 2014.
Folsom to File Lawsuit on Mather Airport Master PlanDuring a Special Closed Session meeting yesterday, the Folsom City Council expressed unanimous support to file a lawsuit challenging the recent approval of the Mather Master Plan
Confronting the Islamic StateContrary to the President's assertions last week, the Islamic State IS Islamic and it IS a state - or at least has all the attributes of a state
California Statewide Fire Summary (9.17.14)This morning nearly 6,500 local, federal and CAL FIRE firefighters are on the frontlines of 11 major wildfires burning across California.
Placer County's Most Wanted: Robert Allen Cavin36 year old, Robert Allen Cavin, last known address of Roseville, CA, is currently being sought by authorities for Bringing controlled substance into jail or prison.
Celebrate PlacerGROWN Week October 11- 18The third annual Celebrate PlacerGROWN Week, October 11th through the 18th, will showcase the more than 100 family farms, 20 Placer County Wine Trail wineries and 9 farmers' markets in the Placer County region
Loomis Eggplant Festival Family Fun October 4thEggplants are growing in Loomis in anticipation of the 27th annual festival on Oct. 4 that includes much more than this gourmet purple fruit.
Lake Tahoe Oktoberfest at Camp RichardsonBeers, brats, and music are on tap at Camp Richardson Oct. 4-5, as Oktoberfest returns to the shores of Lake Tahoe. Now in its 20th year the annual event will showcase
California Statewide Fire Summary Over the weekend the state's fire activity increased significantly. The drought dry conditions coupled with high temperatures and low humidity allowed several new large wildfires to grow quickly