Our View: Thanks, Coach Meek
June 15, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Kelly Meek’s on-court accomplishments speak for themselves.
After taking over the program in 1974, the longtime Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball coach amassed 544 wins; 44 league, district and regional championships; and 20 preseason tournament championships. His teams have won eight of the past 11 Western Slope League championships, and they’ve finished the league schedule unbeaten in three of the past four years.
Meek has coached 102 all-conference players, 41 all-state players and three McDonald’s All-Americans. Twice he has been named Colorado’s Basketball Coach of the Year. The list goes on.
Meek announced his retirement two weeks ago, bringing an end to one of the most successful prep coaching careers in state history. While he may no longer patrol the bench in the gymnasium that bears his name, there’s no doubt Meek’s impact will be felt for generations to come, his legacy secured in the lives of the players he helped mold into men.
Too often we hear about coaches whose primary concern is wins and losses. They neglect the important life lessons athletics can and should teach our children – sportsmanship, work ethic, responsibility, determination and teamwork.
For 34 years, Meek embodied these traits, and passed them on to hundreds – if not thousands – of players, students, parents, assistant coaches and others.
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Perhaps no relationship speaks louder of Meek’s character and commitment than the one he had with former Sailor Cameron Burney.
Burney’s basketball talent was unquestioned; Meek has said he had more potential than any other player to don a Sailors uniform. But Burney’s behavior off the court and attitude proved costly.
During his freshman season, Meek sat Burney for a playoff game. During his junior season, Burney was told he could play only if the stayed out of trouble and wasn’t late to a class for three weeks. He sat out 14 games before being allowed to play in two games. Then he was late for a class.
Meek kicked his best player off the team.
“If we would have played him, it would have been a disservice to the community, to others in the program, and the youth,” Meek said earlier this year. “It would have been a total disservice to everyone, but more importantly to him.
“Somewhere the lesson had to be learned and gleaned. It’s better you finally get it than never get it.”
Burney got it. He excelled his senior year and has thus far been a success in college. He told the Pilot & Today in February that the first thing he’ll do when he receives his college degree is make a copy of it and send it to Meek – the person who deserves much of the credit for Burney’s turnaround.
Meek’s profound impact on Burney is just one of many such stories about the fiercely competitive coach who spent more than three decades preaching the fundamentals of basketball and life to Steamboat teenagers.
So, although controversy in the Steamboat Springs School District once again commanded front-page headlines this past week, it’s a relief to be reminded of the lasting, positive impact educators and coaches like Kelly Meek can have. His guidance and leadership will be as missed as it is cherished.
On behalf of all of Steamboat Springs, thank you, Coach.