Basketball fans and others inspired by the life of Don Meyer are paying tribute to the long-time coach, who died in Aberdeen Sunday morning. Meyer had success at three college programs, including Northern State University, where he set a record for career coaching wins in men’s basketball. Meyer credited his success to a philosophy of finding the right players and holding them accountable.
Meyer explained-- “Our basic idea was if they're not going to try hard in the classroom then they'll probably cheat somewhere else too and it will be basketball. So you can't just turn it on when you're on a basketball floor. If you're a jerk, you're going to be a jerk no matter where you are. If you're a good guy then you'll be a good guy no matter where you are. So we just demanded, like we did in camp, everybody takes notes, everybody says please and thank you; yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am and everybody picks up trash, and you don't miss class. If you miss class, you're going to be in big trouble and we never told them what that trouble was going to be because it scared them even more.”
Despite an exterior that could come off as gruff, Meyer was known for his sharp sense of humor. While Meyer was in hospice care last week, social media sites were set up to share memories of the Coach—and especially to tell him jokes. Brenda Dreyer is a family friend who worked with Meyer at NSU.
Dreyer says, “Coach’s family—that was their wishes to do that. And Coach really enjoyed those. And the jokes, I thought, were pretty funny because—that’s so Coach; he always had such a sense of humor. Sometimes, not all of them appropriate, but most of the time appropriate. He had such a funny sense of humor, and many of the jokes I’ve read are good—and what a great way to remember him.”
Meyer was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, after a serious auto accident that forced removal of his left leg. After recovering from the accident, Meyer coached from a wheelchair to earn the all-time record for men’s basketball career wins.Meyer spent the last week of his life in home hospice care, where he received tributes through special sites on Facebook and Twitter. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.