Our Stories with Coach

Coach Meyer has impacted the lives of many. Share your favorite Coach story or quote using the form below.

He Built A Community & Culture At Northern

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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

Coach Meyer’s Faith

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Having been in Aberdeen for twelve years, I had the great privilege of watching Coach Meyer work the sideline during NSU basketball games. I will never forget his face and his intensity as growled into his handheld recorder. Perhaps his intensity and competitiveness as a coach may never be matched.

But my favorite memory of Coach Meyer was not on the basketball court or hearing him talk about leadership. My very favorite memory of Coach Meyer was when I attended an annual Aberdeen City-wide Prayer Breakfast. What I saw and heard him share with the attendees was one of the best and most encouraging messages I have heard in my life. He talked about his daily schedule and his daily disciplines, and how he would get up before 4 AM to pray and read his Bible.

All the experiences I had watching Coach Meyer at NSU basketball games will be cherished memories. But the thing that will stay with me for the rest of my life will be the simple encouragements he shared about his faith in God and what he did to keep his faith in God strong and alive.

Thank you, Coach, for your being part of our wonderful community. May your faith live on in many others!

– Pastor Jon Droege

The Master Motivator

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Coach has moved on to Heaven. He went HOME yesterday and as it was his best day, for all of us left behind it was a pretty tough day. I am so proud of coach and how many people he has affected for the cause of Jesus Christ. He was the epitome of servant leadership and every time I was around him I learned so much. I don’t think Coach is taking a break in Heaven, I think he is talking, teaching, loving, praising, and helping everyone there.

Life here is about dealing with loss. The longer I live the more loved ones and friends I have that move on. Dealing with this loss is tough, but as Coach Meyer did in life, he has done in death- motivated. I want to do more for the cause of Christ, I want to be a better husband, coach, believer, and live on purpose for His purpose. I want to get to the end and hear “well done my good and faithful servant.” I don’t want to go quietly and want to help change the world for the better and leave it a little better place. Thank you Coach for motivating me to be all I can be for His Glory. Enjoy Heaven my friend. We will meet again.

-Todd O’Neal


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Seldom in your life do you encounter a individual that makes an impact like Coach made on our family. What started out as a gesture caring for his lawn while he was laid up, to a small 4 year old son asking to go to his office to pray with him, turned into a six year friendship. Spectators watching him on the sidelines seen him as a gruff and ruff coach that appeared focused and tough on his players. Those of us that got to know him on a personal level (which at times during the season seemed an impossible barrier to break) seen him as a kind, caring, compassionate and lovable individual that would give the shirt off his back. We were fortunate and able to experience many things that will have lifelong impacts like this giant cuddling up with our son or daughter in his chair giving them head massages until they both fell asleep watching baseball, or watching him sit on the tailgate of my pickup in the driveway teaching our youngsters the proper technique of shooting and the correct stance for the triple threat, or experiencing him stopping by for every birthday or calling and singing to the kids if his travels took him out of town. We also got to experience this man larger than life coming to watch a 5 year old play little league basketball or our daughter playing basketball, when turnovers exceeded points. We also had the pleasure of Coach and Carmen just stopping by to say hello to see how we were doing or offer words of encouragement, but most importantly we got to experience the love he showed us in his final days, and the love to the Lord even when the pain was more than he cared to bare But through it all he never lost focus on the grand prize of eternal life and taught us life lessons right to the end that will stay with us a lifetime. We are forever blessed and thankful to have met such a great man and a great family. Praise be to God.

– Greg Wieker

To Coach

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I never met Coach, but in my first year at Northern he has sure inspired me. I would walk by his office every week and he’d be in there working away. I always knew he was great, but when I heard him speak at avera days I was blown away. This man was so firmly planted in his faith. He leaned on God with every ounce of his being. It was a great day in heaven when God could welcome Coach home.

Thank you, Coach, for inspiring me and showing God’s love to all that you have touched.

– Kayla Nuese

Keep Smiling

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I was walking in the Barnett Center one day and really was having a bad day. Coach stopped me and what he was doing to see what was up and why I was down. in that one little moment, he changed me. Always there to help a person out. Always there for advice. What a great man.

– Emily Johnson

He was an Amy Grant fan and a very spiritual person.

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I work at NSU and had to install Skype on his computer in his office a while ago. He had some CD’s laying on the area behind his desk. One that was in front was Amy Grant’s greatest hits. So I said to him, “You must be an Amy Grant fan”. He went on to tell me that he had met her and there was one song that he had heard at a game that he really liked. She must have made a big impression on him because he kept emphasizing how good of a person she was. He didn’t remember the title of the song, but I’m sure she knew if you asked her since he talked to her. In conclusion, I got the impression that he was a very spiritual person.

– Jerome Brandner

Don Meyer

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My prayers and thoughts are with the Meyer family upon the passing of Coach Meyer. He was a wonderful man and a terrific basketball coach who truly loved the game. His willingness to give to others of his time and knowledge was exemplary. One of the kindest things to be said about any person is “he was unique.” Don was certainly that and much more. His focus and dedication to his craft was unsurpassed. He and a number of other great coaches who matriculated through U. of Northern Colorado taught the game as well as any coaches have. I used to marvel at his desire to get down to the essence of the topic at hand. He wanted to determine, in an unerring manner, the best and most simple way the game could be taught and coached. At the core he was a teacher with the mindset of a scientist. He NEVER stopped thinking about how to do it better. He was also funny and self effacing. I thought his humbleness and kindness were hallmarks of his life as much as were the achievements. I never got to spend enough face time with Don but the phone came in handy to develop a feeling for him. Upon reading about Don’s passing this morning my first emotion was a great sense of loss, knowing that a very special person would no longer be walking among us.

– Ron Adams

Great friend and coach

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I met Don at the University of Utah in 1971 when we were graduate students and assistant coaches together (same office). We later coached against each other when he was at Hamline and I was at UMD. I learned so much from him over that 5 year period and it helped me the rest of my life. He was so good at organization and motivation! No wonder he was such a success in everything he did and he aLways did it the right way. He made a positive influence on thousands of lives.

We are thinking of Carmen and the family and know how he will be missed but how many great memories you will have.

– Maury and Loretta Ray

Thank you, Coach

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We brought our high school team to the Northern State Team Camp the last few years of Coach’s career. My favorite part of the camp was the 2nd night, when Coach Meyer would sit at a table and invite anyone to stop by and talk about basketball and coaching. Our staff would stay for two hours plus. Never wanted those conversations to end. I learned so much about basketball and life in just a short couple of hours. I am so thankful to him for taking the time with us and also for sharing his teaching on the coaching videos. Thanks, Coach. You are already missed.

– Dave Leiser

Influence and Inspiration

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When I was 25 years old, I seriously considered leaving my job as a research scientist to pursue college coaching. I wasn’t bold enough to do that, but I did leave to be a HS science teacher and now a head boys basketball coach at a small HS. I saw Don Meyer speak at 2 coaching clinics and those talks profoundly impacted my life. His wit, knowledge, and wisdom were truly remarkable. Besides John Wooden, coach Meyer set an example of love, passion and enthusiasm that all of us young coaches should model and admire.

At a 2011 clinic in Wisconsin Dells I saw coach Meyer speak. After burning through 11 pages of notes during his talk, I approached him after the talk. I was more nervous approaching him than approaching a girl! I told him I left my profession to coach, and I’ll never forget him looking me in the eye and saying “we are so lucky to have people like you in this profession. God Bless you. Find a small town where you can build a program, make it really meaningful, impact kids and if you make it to a state tournament the whole town will be proud of you.”

I heeded that advice. I now coach in a town of 12,000 people, and due to some amazing kids, we made it to the State Tournament in my first season. It was an experience I’ll never forget. But much like Coach Meyer would say, it’s not about the wins and losses, it is about the process. I love helping kids get better, helping teams improve and most of all cherishing the relationships that we get to form as coaches. Don Meyer will be missed. His impact will last forever. He was a servant-leader, a Christian, and set an example that was truly one of a kind.

– Sean Keating

Coach’s visit to Columbus

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I am so fortunate to have been able to meet, know and learn from Coach Don Meyer. One of the greatest highlights in my time as an A.D. was being able to bring him to Columbus and have him share with our coaching staff, community and kids. His work in all walks of life has and will impact so many and I hope to be able to be a servant leader as Coach aspired for us all to be.

My two favorite “Coach” stories from that trip –

1. After taking time to present to our local Sertoma group over the noon hour, Coach had some calls to make in the car on the way back to the hotel. While neither one was successful in reaching the intended target on the other end of the line, hearing him leave voicemails for both Pat Summitt and Herb Sendek was something truly special, especially as he panned to be “Bob from Bob’s Bean and Beet Farm” on Sendek’s voicemail.

2. Coach Meyer made it a point to bring my father Mark (who is legally blind) along for the trip to Columbus, giving him an additional chance to spend time with his son — something that we were gratefully appreciative of and did truly treasure. The trip to Columbus itself was not without some issue, however, as the group faced a blizzard while driving throughout much of South Dakota and Nebraska. At one point, when the situation seemed really desperate, Coach turned to his driver and quipped “Geesz, Don, it’s so bad out here, we just as well pull over and let Mark drive.”

Every time I had a chance to see or talk to Coach after that trip, he was always ready to share that story, and really enjoyed talking about that venture — his relationship with so many was truly and simply amazing.

– John Krogstrand

Focus on Fundamentals

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Don Meyer’s coaching impact is one that has touched players and coaches at all levels. His focus on the fundamentals of basketball is legendary as any former player, colleague, or basketball camper will attest. The players in the Beech High School Boys Basketball program feel the impact of Coach Meyer each day at practice. Whether preparing in the preseason, regular season, or postseason, the simple but highly effective Shot Progression Drills signal the start of each and every Beech practice. Although I never played for, met, or saw Coach Meyer speak, his influence is still there. Coach Meyer, a coaching legend, will be missed but his influence will remain.

– Darrin Joines
Boys Basketball Coach
Beech High School (TN)

Coach, Mentor, Friend

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My experience with Coach Meyer has spanned 20 years. He spoke at our clinic at Valpo every other year. He also did the clinic every spring. One year I picked him up in Fort Wayne and we drove to Upland. Coach gave a whole new perspective to the flat farmland. He went on and on about the beauty. It wasn’t until I went to visit him in Aberdeen that I better understood his perspective. He taught me so much. On the day I was fired after 18 years at a school he was one of the first to call. The day I got hired he called. I am still amazed at how many people he touched. At one of our recent encounters he showed me his prayer list. I was simply amazed by the number of people he was systematically praying for. He was so much more than a basketball coach. He cared, he really cared! This past fall he came to Wright State to speak at our clinic. He shared with our players. Today I got several texts from our players saying how much his interaction with them impacted them. Because he cared he touched lives.

Thank you Coach.

– Keith Freeman

Coaches Clinic and a young Jayhawks fan

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At one of Coach Meyer’s Coaches Clinics in Aberdeen, the guest coach was Kansas Jayhawk’s, Bill Self. My son had just finished attending Northern’s basketball camp and learned that Coach Self would be speaking the next day. My son is a huge Jayhawks fan so he and my husband returned the next day to listen. After the session, they were just standing to the side watching Coach Self give an interview to the newspaper. Coach Meyer approached them and asked if my son would like to get his autograph. They had never dreamed that would be a possibility so they were not prepared. Coach Meyer said wait here-I’ll go get you a marker from my office. Then he proceeded to escort them to Coach Self where he introduced them and my son got his shirt signed. My son still has that shirt and he still remembers that day vividly.

Coach Meyer was very busy that day. But he noticed a young boy standing in the shadows. And he took the time. That’s just one of the things that made Coach Meyer so special. He took the time.

– Doreen Binger

My First and Greatest Coaching Mentor

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When I was a sophomore in high school, I first got the idea that I wanted to be a basketball coach. I reached out to every coach I had read about and, having read “How Lucky You Can Be,” this included Coach Meyer. Although a few coaches responded with best wishes, only Coach Meyer took the time to send a long, thoughtful reply, full of advice, encouragement, and documents that he used during his time as a coach. As the years went on, we continued to stay in touch and Coach continued to send me anything that he thought might be helpful. The foundation of everything I try to do as a coach, and the foundation of who I try to be as a person, is based on what Coach Meyer has taught me and what he has demonstrated to all of us through the way he coached, taught, and lived. I am beyond grateful to call him my first and greatest role model and mentor in coaching…and in life.

– Jack DiMatteo

A Lifetime of Lessons

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I have to admit sometimes I wonder where God is. It’s not until I look back on my life and see the footprints alongside me all along the way. My third grade year I lived in Lebanon, TN. I loved basketball and had a passion for it. One night my dad brought home a flyer that he had picked up and it was about a Basketball Camp at David Lipscomb College in Nashville. In one of the camps they had Dan Issel attending. He was one of my favorite players and I wanted to meet him. I did not care anything about Lipscomb or their coach, I just wanted to play some basketball and meet Dan Issel.

I went to the camp alone. None of my friends went with me. I was a shy kid so this was a good thing because I met so many friends while I was at this camp.

I also became acquainted with Coach Don Meyer. I had never met anyone like him. He had a passion for excellence that was unparalleled and every one of us knew he meant business.

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As a high school coach from NW North Dakota, it was always a pleasure to attend Coach Meyer’s camps and clinics. He understood the trials and tribulations of all coaches, but more incredibly he always mad you feel that your issues were his issues. He never wavered on sharing coaching thoughts, tips, and X’s & O’s. His ability to make you feel that you were his friend and colleague no matter where or what level you coached. His unwavering faith was a beautiful strength and it had served him well. Coach Meyer, you will be missed by all however your spirit will continue thru eternity as your coaching tree is wide and far.

– Ken Keysor

Peach ice cream and Coach

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I was just a freshman at Lipscomb walking to class when I said “hi” to the newly arrived Coach Meyer he stopped and asked me and my friend if we liked peach ice cream. When we said yes he tols us to be at his house tonight for homemade peach ice cream, gave us his address and walked off. We didn’t know if he was serious or not but the two of us reluctantly showed up and there he was with his ice cream freezer fixing peach ice cream. We had a great evening. I went on to take every class I could (from speedball to advance basketball to coaching( that he taught and today I try to mold high school basketball players into godly men as he did. That bowl of ice cream changed my life. Thanks Coach – go enjoy your greatest victory!!!

– Woody Biggs

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