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David Griswold / Forum Communications Co., Published January 07 2011

Jamestown to honor ex-coach Meyer

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – For more than 30 years, Jerry Meyer’s name was synonymous with Jamestown and winning.

The former high school and college coach led the Blue Jays to four state championships, Jamestown College to its first North Dakota College Athletic Conference Championship and an appearance in the NAIA national basketball tournament.

Now, the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame member’s legacy will not only live on in the history books at Jamestown High School, but also in its gymnasium.

Jamestown High School will honor the former coach by naming the basketball court “Jerry Meyer Arena” prior to Saturday’s game against Williston

“It’s very much an honor,” Meyer said. “It’s not something you think about or ever expect.”

Meyer coached the Blue Jays to 14 state tournaments from 1965-1989. The four championships came in 1976, 1978, 1982 and 1987 mainly because of one key trait Meyer tried to instill in all his players.

“Work hard,” Meyer stated. “We would always stress that. People at home and away would always talk about how hard our kids played.”

And it wasn’t just the fans that could see his philosophy take shape.

“When you went to practice he wanted you to be perfect,” said Jim Harty, Jr., who played on the 1976 championship team. “His teams were so fundamentally sound because of the way he coached. ... Because of the way he taught and the way he wanted everything to be perfect, that was the reason he was so successful.”

Meyer’s success went beyond the walls of Jamestown High School. He also led Jamestown College to back-to-back conference titles in 1994 and 1995 and a national tournament appearance in 1994.

The Jimmies went on to beat St. Thomas (Fla.) in the opening round of the tournament before falling to Taylor University (Ind.) in the next round. In five years as the Jimmies’ head coach Meyer improved by at least three wins every season except one.

“I enjoyed coaching college,” said the Rugby, N.D., native. “It was a very good college both academically and athletically. Also, the support from the community and the college was great.”

Meyer spent the majority of his coaching career in Jamestown, but prior to taking the job with the Blue Jays Meyer spent time coaching at Kenmare High School, where he coached from 1955 to 1956 before being drafted into the Army for two years and spending almost a year and a half overseas.

“I was sent to Korea for 16 months,” he said. “But there wasn’t any war at that time.”

Following his service in the Army, Meyer returned to Kenmare where he led the team to state titles in 1963 and 1965 before coming to Jamestown.

“(Coaching) was really a passion for him,” said George Helmstetler, former activities director at JHS and an assistant under Meyer. “He loved coaching and working with his players.”

Meyer racked up 523 wins throughout his illustrious career and was twice named the North Dakota Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Coach of the Year.

“His preparation was second to none,” Helmstetler said. “He never left anything to chance, no matter if they were playing a good team or a weaker team. He was good at always having the players convinced that if they

didn’t execute they would probably lose.”

Following Saturday’s basketball games there will be a social in the JHS commons area which will be open to the public.

Griswold is a sports writer for the Jamestown (N.D.) Sun, a Forum Communications Co. newspaper