Growing up in the small town of Greensburg, Ind., basketball was just part of the deal for Stacy Meyer ’95. Endless hours of dribbling, shooting, drilling and passing became second nature for the man who went on to be a star player, scoring more than 1,000 points and helping his team win two conference and two sectional championships.
Meyer brought the biggest win of all to his hometown this season, coaching the boys’ team to its first-ever state championship in any sport. The Greensburg Pirates beat the Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran Cadets 73-70 in overtime.
Though not his first trip to the finals — Meyer made it to the final with Southwestern (Shelby) in 2003 — winning at home was especially sweet knowing that numbered among the families and friends watching from the stands were people who had seen him play during his teen years.
“When you are coaching at the school you graduated from,” he said, “obviously, your roots run a little deeper."
There’s also a greater sense of familiarity coaching at home. People are more likely to call him by his first name than Coach, something he shares with the superintendent, Tom Hunter ’80, but Meyer sees that as a positive.
“To be honest, a lot of coaches before I took the job said, ‘Don’t go back to your home school and coach because if you’re not successful, where do you go from there?’ Obviously, I didn’t choose to do that, and it’s worked out really well, and I’m glad I did it. I couldn’t be more happy.”
Dave Benter ’96, a star player at Hanover who now serves as head coach at his own hometown, Brownstown Central High School, concurred.
“There is pressure to win as a high school basketball coach no matter where you are coaching,” said Meyer’s former teammate. “So, I don't think there is any additional pressure because it is my alma mater. If there is not pressure to win at a school, then winning is probably not very important, and it is probably not going to be a good place to coach.”
At Hanover, Meyer also topped 1,000 career points and helped the Panthers win their first NCAA Division III playoff game in history. His first coaching job was for HC’s archrival, Franklin College.
After six years there, he spent two at Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Ind., and three at Whiteland Community High School before returning home to Greensburg. Meyer no longer seems to mind competing against his friends, and did not exhibit a killer instinct discussing the process.
“Last year, Dave (Benter) beat us in the regional, this year we beat him in the regional, (but) that part of it you don’t enjoy; you want both of you to be winners,” he said. “But it is special, I think, that you have so many Hanover guys out there coaching, like (current HC head men’s basketball coach) Jon Miller ’97, who returned the compliment.
“He was a good scorer who played with confidence,” said Miller of Meyer's days as a Panther. “I think you can see those traits in his teams as well.”
In addition to gaining experience on the court and learning from retired Head Coach Mike Beitzel, Meyer has also taken tips from Hanover’s winningest football coach, Wayne Perry, father of his wife Jennie Perry Meyer ’96.
“Obviously, (Perry) coached a different sport, but I have learned so much from being around him, (such as) how to handle certain situations and … the other little things that surround coaching, like parents and players … I pick his brain on little things. With all his experiences and successes he’s had, he’s been a tremendous help.”
With five starters back next season, it seems likely Meyer won’t leave home anytime soon.
“You know, I grew up here (and) played here,” he said. “I have twin daughters that are in 7th grade that are very involved in extracurricular activities here at school, so we do enjoy it here. Do I see myself here for quite some time? Yes.”
Top photo courtesy of The Daily News, Greensburg, Ind.
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2013