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We are blessed due to choices allowed to make

July 9, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

Moises Campos, a missionary from Spain, whom our church supports, stood behind the podium at Colonial Baptist Church on Sunday and told the congregation how blessed we are to live in this country.

He said it in a most kind and believable manner.

And, he said it more than once.

He said he sees things in our country that he would never see in Spain - and he mentioned Bible verses on billboards and writing on T-shirts.

Yes, we are blessed to live in this country, we just don't always see it.

Our society is more negative than positive.

Our society believes ...

That hard work is for the other children, not theirs

That playing time is a right, not a privilege

That youth sports is for the adults, not the youth

That board members can dump coaches "just because" someone has a hair in the wrong place, because some kid took a chewing or because grandpa's grandson shouldn't have been cut

That it's OK to correct children

That being rude is not acceptable

That a red light actually means stop and not speed up

That it's OK if kids strike out and it's not someone's fault

That kids are far more resilient than adults

We live in a country where we choose our paths.

We make decisions all our lives and those decisions form our lives.

We are not back during the Spanish Inquisition where you were put to death if you were caught with a Bible.

We choose if we want to chew out a coach.

We choose if we want to volunteer for the concession stand.

We choose if we want to confront a youth league umpire becuase we felt they were terrible.

We choose freedom of speech and then are surprised when that right gets us in trouble.

We choose to get kicked off an athletic team or follow the rules.

We choose to go to that 8 a.m. economics class or sleep in.

We choose to call off the day before our weekend, to give us a three-day weekend and we don't care what that decision does to our co-workers.

We choose to get benched because we don't want to work hard enough.

We choose to get involved with a political party, follow school boards closely, date online or burn a flag.

We choose to believe in God, be an atheist or be somewhere in between.

We choose to work hard in school, ditch a class or skip practice.

We choose to miss curfew or get in 10 minutes early.

We choose our attitude every day and that's a wonderful thing.

Athletes must always understand that the team comes before them. Parents must definitely remember it.

Athletes who show up late to practice, in essence, are saying that their time is more important than the team's.

Don Meyer met John Wooden three years ago, a little less than a year before Wooden died at age 99.

Wooden handed Meyer a card with words of guidance that Wooden's father gave to him upon his graduation from grade school.

A favored piece of advice from Wooden to son was simple, "Don't whine. Don't complain. Don't make excuses."

What makes this country a blessing is we hear people whine, complain and make excuses all the time and we choose how we will deal with those people.

If they are employees at a store, we stop frequenting the store.

If they are athletes, they sit at the end of the bench for a really long time.

If they are parents, they watch their kids sit at the end of the bench for a really long time.

Because, usually, if parents are doing it, kids are doing it.

It's a learned behavior.

"Successful programs consist of people working hard, working together, while never worrying about who gets the credit."

Meyer finished his 36-year coaching career at 923-324, a .740 winning percentage.

In 2008, Meyer was behind the wheel in a car by himself leading the team caravan to a hunting lodge for an annual retreat.

According to published reports, the vehicle he was driving abruptly crossed the center line on a two-lane highway after the coach apparently fell asleep and the car was hit on the left side by an oncoming semi-truck and skidded into a ditch. Assistant coaches and team members rushed to his aid.

Multiple operations followed in a hospital 200 miles from home to remove Meyer's spleen, repair cracked ribs and deal with a mangled left leg that later was amputated below the knee.

During his hospital stay, Meyer lost 20 pounds and went through rehabilitation to rebuild his strength and learn how to move with a walker or in a wheelchair.

Meyer calls the accident a blessing.


Because without it, doctors probably would never have detected the slow-moving cancer growing inside of him when they opened him up during the emergency surgery.

Northern State Athletic Director Bob Olson read a statement from the coaching during a news conference held one week after the accident:

"It is now 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 12. My trauma surgeon, David Strand, just told me they found carcinoid cancer in my liver and small bowels. The cancer was discovered during the emergency surgery after my wreck on Sept. 5. What's great about this is I would not have known about the cancer had I not had the wreck.

"God has blessed me with the one thing we all need which is truth. I can now fight with all of my ability. What I now ask is that everybody who believes in God would praise him for this discovery and pray to Him to give me the strength, patience and peace to be a man of God on this journey.

"I am looking forward to coaching this season and am forever thankful to my team who saved my life and the coaching staff who has stepped up to the plate."

He retired in 2010.

His choice.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at and can be followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike)

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