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Life, Basketball & The Big Screen

February 14, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Life, Basketball & The Big Screen
ABERDEEN, SD -

Not everyone has a life that draws the attention of film companies. Don and Carmen Meyer do.

From a record-setting career to a car crash that nearly took his life, the former Northern State University coach has been called inspirational by many. Now there's a movie about him in the works.

Even after retiring from coaching basketball, Meyer hasn't left his past completely behind. He still has fond memories of coaching, he says, especially the students.

"They were just wonderful,” Meyer says, “and I'm talking Lipscomb, Northern, Hamlin. I mean, we had some unbelievable kids that were just good players, too."

Between those three schools Meyer coached basketball for nearly 40 years. As head coach, he totaled 923 wins and only 324 losses. One of his teams earned a national championship.

But his success also came with sacrifice, a lot of time away from home.

"I had to be pretty independent while he was coaching because he wasn't around too much,” Carmen Meyer said. “But we made it work and that's the important thing.”

His career had other challenges. Meyer drew national media to Aberdeen when he returned to coaching after a severe car crash. Along with amputating his left leg after the crash, doctors also discovered Meyer had inoperable cancer.

Because of his health, Meyer decided to retire from coaching, but his name hasn't gone away. His story prompted a book written by ESPN's Buster Olney. Then a company made a deal with the Meyers for a movie. The project is still in the fund raising stages.

"The producer told us just recently that he feels like they're getting really close," Carmen Meyer said.

The script is written and Carmen Meyer has read and reread it multiple times. She says she's asked for changes along the way. For example, one part of the script had her using questionable language.

"They also had some locker room talk that I didn't think was necessary. And I explained to them that I want my grandchildren, or our grandchildren, to be able to go to the movie," Carmen Meyer said.

Overall, Carmen says the script turned out well and she expects it'll make a good movie. It would also bring their story to more people.

They're already well known in places such as South Dakota where Meyer coached. Meyer says he's sure he won't be remembered all that long. While he is, he wants his story to make a difference.

People, especially those facing hard times, have told him the book written by Olney has made a difference.

"It was an honest book, a book that helped people. I would just hope that the movie would help people like Buster's book helped so many people," Don Meyer said.

The importance of faith, family and friends are lessons Meyer says he's learned himself. With her husband in and out of the hospital during his cancer battle, Carmen Meyer says she's learned about perseverance.

"He seems to be getting a little bit weaker all the time, but I give him credit. He's not a quitter, that's for sure," Carmen Meyer said.

Regardless of what people take from their story, when it comes to basketball, Carmen hopes she'll be remembered as being supportive.

"It wasn't always easy because sometimes I would get a little jealous of the time he'd spend away,” Carmen Meyer said. “But it all worked out in the end so it was well worth it."

"I'd like to be remembered as a teacher, a guy who could really teach the fundamentals, that would be great," Meyer said.

Even though Meyer has retired from coaching, he and his wife Carmen are still plugged into the Aberdeen community in multiple ways. They're currently helping raise money for a cancer center.

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