Former Northern State basketball coach Don Meyer dies - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Former Northern State basketball coach Don Meyer dies

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Former Northern State University Men's Basketball Coach Don Meyer died Sunday following a six-year battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

The Meyer family issued this statement: "Don Meyer peacefully went to heaven on Sunday morning, May 18, 2014. He won his greatest victory and is now running again and gearing up to pitch nine innings. The family appreciates the outpouring of love, prayers and concern."

Funeral arrangements are pending, but a service will be held at the Barnett Center, on the campus of Northern State University, in Aberdeen.

The longtime coach had been in hospice care since Tuesday.

Don Meyer knew the end was near. On April 3, Meyer and his wife, Carmen, were honored in a ceremony at Avera St. Luke’s in Aberdeen. They announced that a soon to be built cancer center would be named after them. Meyer had a message for all those he spent time with in the four-decades of coaching.

"All those coaches and players, I just want to say I loved them and they’re all swimming by and I’m just going to wave goodbye.”

Don Meyer coached his final 11 seasons at Northern State, retiring in 2010. Current Washington High School Boys Basketball Coach Craig Nelson played for Meyer for five of those years.

“He meant everything to me. He was tough but you need to hear that when you’re 19 years old,” Nelson said. “Even recently I visited him and his health was failing but he was still speaking and helping others.

Despite 923 wins as a head coach, Meyer’s greatest legacy may be as a teacher of the game.

“Don Meyer was ahead of his time. He was doing camps and putting out videos of the game long before anyone else,” says Augustana College Head Coach Tom Billeter.

Meyer made national headlines in 2008 when he survived a near fatal car accident. He lost his leg in the crash. It’s also when doctors discovered the cancer that would eventually take his life. Despite all of that, Meyers returned to the sideline that following season at Northern State. In 2009, Meyer received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPYS. His great sense of humor came out in front of a worldwide audience.

“I’m just a small college coach from South Dakota, which means when I leave I’ll take all of the bar soap, towels, and everything else with me.”

Meyers was well connected in the basketball world – friends with the biggest names in the game. He told us back in April, his friend, the legendary John Wooden, taught him something he never forgot.

“He told me to love everyone, even your enemies. And other than Carmen, that was the greatest lesson in my life.”

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