Coach Don Meyer Leaves Basketball Legacy with Life Lived Triumphantly
Not many people learn about a cancer diagnosis after surviving a horrendous car accident. Even fewer can find the blessing contained within a double-barrel full of tragedy. There was only one Don Meyer.
The former coach of Lipscomb University and then Northern State University succumbed to cancer on Sunday. Friends, colleagues and players who learned the game of basketball from the one-time NCAA all-time wins leader are left with heavy hearts. Many more were inspired by his ability to handle adversity with calmness and perseverance.
My one interaction with Coach Meyer came soon after the accident. As a broadcaster, I was assigned to play-by-play duties for an Augustana College men’s and women’s basketball double header against Northern State. Between games a moment to breathe led to a chance to wish Coach Meyer well in his recovery.
Knowing his history, idle chit-chat would be taboo. I came up behind him as he watched the warm up sequence, studying both teams intently. Putting my hand on his shoulder, the chiseled feel of his frame was astounding. This was a man who was inherently strong and probably more so at that time because of the need to use his upper body to get around.
Coach Meyer’s eyes never left the court as I took 15 seconds to offer my sentiments. Nonetheless, Coach Meyer appreciated those words as a man who was still on a long, painful road to recovery. At that time over five years ago, he probably believed that he could bounce back and find a way to win. Just like a champion would.
FLASHBACK: See Don Meyer’s moving acceptance speech of the Jimmy V award at the ESPY’s.