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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Coaching With Purpose

Lori Meyer (2nd from left) was a 2013 NFCA Hall of Fame Inductee
Holding the same job for three decades is impressive, especially in the world of intercollegiate athletics. And especially so at one institution.
Lori Meyer has been coaching the Minnesota State University, Mankato softball team for 31 years. As the head coach for the team, Meyer has seen the players take the field for 1,677 games and with 1,049 wins to her name, ranks amongst the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA Division II.
While she has had an abundance of success with the Mavericks, Meyer’s career in the sports world started long before her arrival at MSU.
“I grew up on a dairy farm with four brothers,” Meyer said. “ Really the neighborhood I grew up in was all boys around me. I had no choice but to figure out how to run with the boys and get that tough mentality.”

Growing up Meyer started playing YMCA softball and entering junior high she expanded her sports experiences by participating in basketball and track. While in college at Upper Iowa University, Meyer was on a basketball scholarship but also played softball and joined the track and volleyball teams for one year each.

Next on the sports train, Meyer found herself in a graduate position at MSU. While earning her master’s degree, Meyer was hired as a grad assistant for the softball and volleyball teams, which led to the head coaching with the Maverick softball program beginning in 1985.

Meyer has seen her fair share of success since her start as softball head coach in 1985. She led the Purple and Gold to two North Central Conference titles in 1987 and 1989 and then another one almost twenty years later in 2007. Recently the team won Northern Sun Intercollegiate titles in 2012,2013 and 2014.  Those are just to name a few.

MSU wrestling coach Jim Makovsky has worked along side Meyer for over 20 years and appreciates how the Albert City-Truesdale High School (Iowa) graduate goes about her business.

“I love her intensity, passion and how much she genuinely cares about her student-athletes,” said Makovsky. “ I believe she uses the sport of softball as a tool to help her players grow.”

With 30-plus years of accomplishments in one place some people might take their talents elsewhere for new adventures. However, Meyer enjoys the atmosphere of Mankato and has no plans of leaving.

“ I love the size,” Meyer said about living and working in the Key City.” I love how the greater Mankato community has grown and keeps developing and all the changes that have been made. It’s just a great place to grow and everything I need is right here.”

Besides the team awards and conference championships, Meyer has also assisted hundreds of student-athletes to succeed in their academic lives. During the course of her tenure Meyer has produced 122 academic all-conference student-athletes and six teams finish with a grade point average in the top-five of Division II, including her 1996 squad, which had the best GPA in Division II with a 3.31. 

“I think she has a purpose in the coaching profession,” Makovsky said. “And that is leading student-athletes toward getting a high quality education. She is a true educator and one of the best I have worked with.”

For Meyer, her choice to stay at MSU for so long is attributed to not only her love for sports, but also her love for helping the student athletes grow and mature.

“When you coach, every day that you go to work there is something different,” Meyer said. “I love the flexibility of coaching and I love the relationships that I have built with the players and other coaching staff. Watching the players find their place and have future goals is really what it’s all about.”

Meyer has already achieved so much as the head coach of a successful softball program and entering her fourth decade she isn’t so much focused on her own goals. It’s the students she wants to see succeed.

“The philosophy of our program, is for our young ladies to leave as strong, independent women,” Meyer said. “And we just want to continue that goal that our student-athletes leave with their degree and independence to do what they want.”

The softball team will look to create more memories with Meyer as the season gears up February 12 with several tournaments and NSIC play beginning March 22.

- contributed by Kelcie Richmond, Athletic Communications intern

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