One of my favorite Coach Don Meyer moments was when I first started working at Northern. I had been working in Student Activities for about 6 months and I got a phone call from Coach Meyer (whom I hadn’t met yet) asking me to lunch. I kept thinking, “Why on earth would a busy and successful basketball coach want to spend time with a no-namer like me who works in student life?”
I was very surprised to see that he chose to drive me to a part of Aberdeen that I didn’t know even existed, and eat at the Sip and Spin Laundromat. We ate deer summer sausage sandwiches. I knew right then and there this man had no ego, and I could learn a lot from him. Coach was very encouraging to me, and supportive of the programs and projects that we were starting on campus. During the lunch, we were interrupted by a phone call from Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, but his demeanor and conversation was no different with the famous coach than it was with the sweet lady serving us sandwiches. He treated everyone with the same level of respect, no matter who you were.
At Northern, he was not just a Coach, but a caring person who took time to cultivate relationships, regardless of what you did. Occasionally I would get an encouraging note in my mailbox from Coach that would say things like “you’re building a sense of community…it only takes a little more to go first class…” Talk about building a sense of community, that is what coach was all about – building a sense of pride and culture where everyone feels valued. A lot of people talk about building community, Coach did it. When Coach Meyer was asked to be the Gypsy Day Parade Marshal, he would only accept if the NSU #1 Fan Nate Thompson, who was developmentally disabled, could ride in the car. I know that was one of my Dad’s good memories, as he got to drive the convertible with Coach Meyer and Nate. Each year Coach would help us out with our new student orientation in the fall, and would address the incoming freshman class. His advice to these freshmen was to always stop and pause their life throughout their time in college, “Each one of you need to stop and pause your lives, and take a look at the people that you surround yourself with. They either build you up, or knock you down. Those people you associate with will ultimately define you.”
No matter what Coach did or where he was, you could always take a memory or a life lesson with you. I am so honored and blessed to have been able to call him a friend.
– Travis Sieber