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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 Headlines

$96,000 Raised for Fallen Officers with Help of Dutch Bros.On Wednesday, October 29, Dutch Bros. Coffee owners in the Sacramento area banded together with the community to raise $96,697 to support the families of Sacramento Sheriff Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sheriff's Detective Michael David Davis Jr.

Roseville Police Seek Suspect in Halloween Crime61-year-old Daniel Rosario is being sought by Roseville police in connection with an early-morning burglary, car theft and attempted assault on an officer

Roseville, Rocklin Among Top Choices for Young FamiliesRoseville and Rocklin are ranked among the top 10 places in Northern California for young families according to a NerdWallet report

Kings, Sacramento Community Break Ground on Arena Marking the culmination of a decade-long effort to build a new arena in Sacramento, today the community officially celebrated the groundbreaking of the new downtown Entertainment and Sports Center (ESC).

Roseville Hit and Run Reward OfferedRoseville Crime Stoppers is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of a wrong-way driver who crashed into another car and then fled the scene

Free Alzheimer's Caregivers Workshop at UC DavisOnline registration begins Nov. 4 for the UC Davis Mini Medical School, a series of Saturday classes ideally geared for foresighted middle-agers and novice seniors

Roseville California Crime Brief (10.29.14) Crime brief update report for Roseville, California October 29, 2014.

Halloween Safety TipsCostumes, jack-'o-lanterns, haunted house and scary ghost stories mark this time of year as all kids of all ages enjoy the spirit of Halloween

Memorial for Slain Officer to be Held in RosevilleThe memorial service for Detective Michael Davis, who was killed in the line of duty will be held Tuesday, November 4, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. at Adventure Christian Church

2,400 Volunteers Turn Out in Rocklin for Annual EventMore than 2,400 volunteers packed 520,992 meals for malnourished children around the world at a three-day event at William Jessup University in Rocklin.

Sinking Gas Prices Won't Last The U.S. average price of gasoline ($3.03/gal) continues its slide to levels last seen in December 2010... and today, more than one-half of the nation's gas stations offer regular

Dutch Bros. to Raise Funds for Fallen Officers' Families Dutch Bros. Coffee owners in the Sacramento area are raising funds to support the families of Sacramento Sheriff Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sheriff's Detective Michael David Davis Jr.


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