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Sunday, May 18, 2014

COACH MEYER AND HIS LEGACY LEFT ON MY LIFE

Those of us close to Coach knew this day was coming.  We knew it was coming sooner than any of us wanted it to.  Each time I saw Coach it was noticeable in his weight loss and in his energy.  But like one of his heroes John Wooden, he remained mentally sharp, sharing his knowledge with as many as he could.  Still the preparation of this day arriving has not made it any easier to accept.

I will argue strongly and vehemently that no coach has impacted the game more than Don Meyer.  Thousands upon thousands of girls and boys attended his camps – simply one of the best teaching camps in the nation.  Thousands upon thousands of coaches attended his free clinics in the fall, his Coaching Academy in the summer or packed gyms, hotel ballrooms and churches to hear his words of wisdom on coaching, teaching and life. He made an amazing impact on youth leagues, junior high and high school, college and NBA coaches and players.  He impacted the men’s game and the women’s game.  More importantly he impacted everyone he came in touch with.

But today I am hurting because I’ve lost a friend and a mentor.  I could write a book about all that he has taught me.  His advice has guided me throughout my career.

My relationship with Coach dates back nearly 25 years ago and he has been a big part of my life since. When I had to take over as interim head coach at LSU he literally called me every day, sometimes twice to offer me advice and support or to just be a sounding board.  Our run lasted three weeks with an appearance in the Final Four and he never missed a day calling me.  I have never made a career decision without first discussing it with Coach and he never steered me wrong.

Coach always made an impression when he came to visit.  He would be quick with his sarcasm to me but would charm my wife, Sherie, right out of her shoes.  My wife simply adores him.
This past summer when Coach and his wife Carmen came to stay at our home, we were joined by Greg Brown.  As I always do when Coach comes to visit, I have him talk to our team.  The messages he gives are incredible and stays with our student-athletes for a lifetime.  One night, around 11 PM, myself, Greg and Carmen tired and went to bed while he and Sherie watched some Perry Mason reruns.  A little after midnight they decided to call it a night and Coach asked Sherie if she’d mind if they prayed together before turning in.  My wife is a cancer survivor and Coach asked God to look over her and keep her in good health.  When she came to bed she woke me to tell me the story – she was deeply moved that Coach had thought of her like that when he too was battling cancer.

But that’s Coach – always thinking of us.
There are far too many memories to share in this post and I’m a bit too emotional right now to go any further only to say that I love Coach Meyer and he will forever be a part of my life.

But for us that have learned so much from him there will be all of the things that he has shared with us that will move us forward.  I can hear him now:
“Everyone takes notes. Everyone says ‘yes sir’ ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no sir’ and ‘no ma’am.’ Everyone picks up trash.  Always leave a place better than you found it.”

Repeat – “Always leave a place better than when you found it.” 
That you did Coach, that you did! 

Of all the “Meyerisms” that Coach would share when he spoke, one stands out to me more today:

“You need to find your unique talent or gift, develop your unique talent or gift, and then give your gift away every day.”

Nobody, and I mean nobody has done that better in our profession than you Coach!