Over the past few years, I have mentioned Don Meyer in a number of my entries. Coaching at three smaller universities, Don this past season became college basketball's all-time winningest coach. But that was not his greatest triumph this year. Last fall, Don was nearly killed in a car accident in South Dakota as he took his team on a pre-season retreat. He sustained massive injuries, one of which resulted in the amputation of a leg below the knee. In the hospital, while saving his life from the crash, doctors discovered his body was also racked with cancer. Don persevered and was back coaching after several months. If you know the man, you aren't surprised. His fighting spirit and courage led ESPN to award him with the Jimmy V Award at the ESPY's. Please click the link below and see a wonderful presentation and Don's acceptance speech.
Let me tell you quickly how I came to know Don. For fifteen years, I worked in the summers at his Bison Basketball Camps, held on the campus of David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. I learned so much about coaching basketball during those years. So did many other coaches from around the country who flocked to this camp to work for Don, a fellow Nebraskan. What sticks out for me, however, are two incidents away from the hardwood. When I lived in south Georgia early in my career, I had nowhere to go on the weekends while working at camp. Don and his lovely wife, Carmen, took me into their home and made me an honorary part of their family during those summers. (Carmen is one of the best Trivial Pursuit players in the nation!) Then, in 1996, one of my former high school players was in a terrible car accident outside of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, suffering a broken neck and hip. I called Don's office and relayed the message that Jami had been a basketball camper at Lipscomb while in high school and how she was in a life-or-death scenario at Vanderbilt Hospital. For the rest of the summer, Jami had at least one visit every day from the Lipscomb players and they never came empty-handed. On each trip, they would bring cards or a t-shirt or a poster or an autographed ball. How can you put a value on that as a family when your child is clinging to life? Maybe in a small way, Don has been been paid back with the outpouring of love and support from around the United States during his time of crisis. He did it for Jami and he did it for many others during their darkest hours, like calling me at the hospital in St. Louis the day before Dad died. Now the cycle is complete. Maybe it's just me but that's how life seems to work. It's just nice to see it rewarded.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Your program must have an overriding purpose which is clearly visible and which teaches lessons beyond winning.”
Click here or copy/paste to watch the clip from ESPN:
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