Meyer impresses

JUCO speaker's humor, message leave mark on crowd

Former Northern State (S.D.) basketball coach Don Meyer talks about the necessity of character for players Friday night as he gives the keynote speech at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series banquet at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Don Meyer was told he should see the new Mets Stadium, and while he was at it, check out the new Yankees Stadium, too.

Meyer, though, told the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series banquet audience Friday night if he could see one place, it would be a game at the JUCO World Series at Sam Suplizio Field.

“It’s not even close,” Meyer said at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Meyer plans to be in attendance today.

Suplizio Field will always be a special place for Meyer.

He once had a perfect game going into the sixth inning for the University of Northern Colorado freshman team against Mesa College. He played for Suplizio and the Grand Junction Eagles semi-pro team in the late 1960s before becoming one of the most successful basketball coaches of all time, with 923 victories, second only to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

Meyer retired from coaching at Northern State (S.D.) University after the 2009-10 season, two years after he was nearly killed in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer. He found out he had inoperable carcinoid cancer, usually found in the gastrointestinal system.

“When you hit a semi-truck with a little Prius and come out alive, there’s got to be a reason you did,” Meyer said. “I don’t really talk much about the wreck. I talk about what these kids need. That’s more important than telling them about some wreck. I talk to them about what’s important for them to do. A lot of these kids think they’re going to play pro ball. Some are, some aren’t.”

Since he retired, he does speaking engagements across the country, 55 in the first five months, he said.

“I’m not trying to run everything like I used to as a coach,” Meyer said. “I know what my purpose is. I think that’s to try to coach a lot of people rather than just a few people, sort of like a coaching clinic.”

Meyer gave a riveting speech Friday night, whether it was his dead-pan humor or a serious moment.

He talked about the five Vitamin Cs for players: concentration; courtesy; communication; compete; and consistency.

Through the humor and the stories, his message was clear.

“Your example is not the main thing that influences people. It’s the only thing,” Meyer said of his message. “That’s Albert Einstein. I didn’t know that until a couple weeks ago.

“Albert Schweitzer compliments that with his quote, ‘Instead of telling people what you think is right, live it.’ Every day I try to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. When absolutely necessary I use words.”

Afterwards, Meyer stayed to autograph a copy of his book “How Lucky You Can Be,” written by Buster Olney.


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