Former players speak on influence of legendary coach ...
The greatest lessons the late coach Don Meyer taught his players had nothing to do with how to play the game of basketball.
Although they did learn countless strategies, schemes and tips for the game from Meyer, the most important lessons he taught his teams dealt with how to perform off the court.
“Coach Meyer didn’t just influence me when it came to basketball, he influenced everything in my life,” former Bison Alan Banks said. “He influenced the way I do business. He even influenced the way I raise my kids.”
Banks played at Lispcomb from 1978-1982 and has a daughter, upcoming junior Alex Banks, playing for the Lady Bisons’ basketball team
“My daughter will hear something Coach Meyer said, and she will say that my dad tells me that all the time,” Banks said.
Meyer first became known across the country for his impressive 923 wins totaled throughout his prolific career. However, the legendary coach stuck in people’s minds because of the life values that he instilled in his players.
“He’s affected probably every area of my life,” former Lipscomb basketball player Wade Tomlinson said. “It would really be hard to narrow down to the best piece of non-basketball advice that he gave me because there were so many. But, mainly I guess for me, when bad things happen to you, look to help other people. I lost a son early on, and Coach Meyer did the service. He helped me out through a tough time.”
During his 24 years at Lipscomb, as well as during his stints with Northern State and Hamline, Meyer took struggling programs and helped them achieve success. Banks relished the opportunity to be there when Meyer began that transformation at Lipscomb.
“I was in one of the first recruiting classes, so I felt that we really laid the groundwork for all the future success,” Banks said. “I was lucky to have a front row seat to witness it before the nation found out about Coach Meyer.”
John Pierce, the all-time leading scorer in college basketball history, played under Meyer from 1990-1994. Pierce noted that although Meyer asked a lot of his players every day, he did more than enough for them in return.
“Playing for Coach Meyer was great. When I was playing for him, it was really difficult,” Pierce said. “He was a demanding coach in the amount of time that he required with practice, weights, meetings and summer responsibilities. The requirements were very big and time consuming, and he was a hard coach. He wanted perfection.
“Even during the time that I was playing, I knew that he was a great coach. I knew that the things he was asking of us were making us better. The further I’ve gotten removed from my playing time with Coach [Meyer], the more I’ve appreciated what he taught me, not just on the court, but in life. I know there are great coaches out there, but Coach was definitely really special.”
Pierce received countless pieces of advice over his four years with Meyer, but the one thing the former Bison will never forget was the way Meyer taught by doing.
“The best thing that that he taught was that all of us can teach by what we do, and that was definitely the case with Coach. The things that he taught, he did,” Pierce said. “I think the way he treated other people was probably the best lesson. Whether it was the person serving us our food at Western Sizzlin or the janitor who cleaned our locker room, Coach was really good to everyone.
“The basketball community around the world, especially in the Southeast and Tennessee, lost one of the pillars of the game.”
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics