Meyer praised by players, coaches: Legendary JHS basketball coach dies at 82 in Minot
Jerry Meyer, who put Jamestown High School basketball on the map in the 1970s and 1980s, died at a Minot hospital on Monday.
Meyer, held in the same high regard as Jamestown College coaching legend Rollie Greeno by former players and assistant coaches, led the Blue Jays to four state championships. He had 523 career victories and was elected into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Before Jerry got here, Jamestown was a football town. By the time he retired Jamestown was a basketball town, and make no mistake about it, that was because of Jerry Meyer,” said Tom Gould, who played under Meyer in 1965 and ’66 and then later coached alongside him. “He was a man far ahead of his time.”
Meyer amassed a stellar coaching résumé, leading the Blue Jays to state championships in 1976, ’78, ’82 and 1987. After retiring as coach in Jamestown, he went to Colorado and coached there, before returning to Jamestown and guiding the Jimmies to NDCAC titles in 1994 and ’95.
Jamestown High School named its basketball floor after Meyer in 2011.
For as much as the championships and wins meant, former players said the lessons went beyond X’s and O’s.
“I just remember growing up with the guys in my class, there was this God-like figure in coach Meyer and I remember so vividly and passionately wanting to earn his respect,” said 1987 Mr. Basketball winner Bryan Flam. “If you earned coach Meyer’s respect, that was a pretty big deal.”
Meyer was renowned for his preparation and attention to detail.
“In terms of scouting and having his players prepared, he was second to none,” said Jeff Gould, believed to be one of just two players to play for Meyer at both Jamestown High School and Jamestown College. “I’m not even kidding you. We’d be playing somebody and we’d be on defense and we’d know the other team’s offense better than they did.
“Coach Meyer epitomized everything’s that good about coaching.”
George Helmstetler, who coached under Meyer for years at JHS, then succeeded him as head coach when Meyer retired, said despite his vast knowledge, he was also seeking more.
“We’d be scouting in Fargo and there’d be three or four EDC coaches sitting with us … and he’d always ask those other coaches their opinion about a certain team or a certain player, and he’d always listen.
“He liked to ask questions and see what other people thought, even though he always knew more than the rest of us.”
Meyer was demanding, Helmstetler said, but his methods proved successful.
“He was very persistent. You were going to work and work until you got it right,” said Helmstetler, who later became the athletic director at Jamestown High School. “I think that led directly to that in high school basketball his teams improved more from the beginning of the season to the end than any I can ever remember.”
Meyer’s strict, old-school style was firm Flam recalled, but there was never any question about who was in charge.
“He was tough. He was set in his ways, but he had 100 percent respect of his former players and the parents. Nobody second guessed him,” said Flam, who lives in Fargo. “If coach Meyer believed something, then you as the player knew it had to be right.
“It was an honor to play for him. I wouldn’t have wanted any other coach.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org