Miami basketball coach Katie Meier’s fathers had very different impacts on her life

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 30: The opening tip is held between the Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first half at Watsco Center on January 30, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 30: The opening tip is held between the Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first half at Watsco Center on January 30, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Fathers play a huge role in the development of their children who have successful sports careers. Katie Meier’s father and stepfather played very different roles in her life and development. She lives that every day leading the Miami basketball team.

The fathers of Miami Hurricanes players and coaches have had a huge impact on the success of their careers. Miami basketball coach Katie Meier fathers had very different impacts on her career. Her biological father Jerry Meier died in an airplane crash when Meier’s mother was four months pregnant with her.

Meier is 277-152 in 14 years as the head coach. She is 26 wins behind the program’s all-time leader Ferne Labati. Labati was 302-195 in 17 seasons from 1988-2005. Meier’s .645 winning percentage is the best in program history. Miami has had five straight 20 win seasons and reached that number in nine of the last ten years.

Katie’s physical prowess as an all-state basketball player in Wheaton, Illinois and as a star player at Duke came from her biological father Jerry. Jerry played basketball at DePaul under hall of fame coach Ray Meyer from 1959-62.

Although Katie Meier never knew her father, those that did could tell she was his daughter. The Sun Sentinel’s Dave Hyde worte a great column on Friday about Meier’s journey not knowing her biological father and the stepfather she grew up with, Howard Skolak.

Playing in high school in Wheaton, Illinois, someone approached Meier and asked her if her father was Jerry. Hyde relayed the story in his column for the Sun Sentinel.

"“‘Are you Gerry Meier’s daughter — you have to be?’, (Hyde continued) asked a man who came out of the stands in tears after a game her senior year in high school, saying she indeed ran on the court like her father.”"

For her physical attributes, Hyde said that “Meier got her eyes, her height, parts of her full personality and evidently her manner of running on a basketball court.”.  Skolak taught her “her patience, her organization, a loving childhood and a good investment in basketball shoes that her brothers never received.”

Hyde relayed the story that Meier asked Skolak permission to buy an $88 dollar pair of basketball shoes in the 1980s that he joked saved him a lot of money with Katie earning a scholarship to Duke to play basketball. In four seasons in Durham, Meier averaged 16.2 PPG, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game.

Meier was good enough to play softball in college. She chose basketball because it made her feel close to her biological father. Meier told Hyde that she wanted to play basketball because her father did.

"“Basketball was the thing I was going to do because it was what my dad did. That was what decided it. I remember going to the state tournament [in high school] and arrived on the bus, just thinking, and I had a moment where he was kind of with me.It was like, ‘Yep, this is my sport. This is what I’m going to do in college.’ I knew this was going to be my path.”"

Meier spoke to Hyde about the importance of living in the moment. The Miami basketball team heeded Meier’s mantra this past season when they defeated then-defending national champion Notre Dame at home and later winning at number three Louisville.

"“I always think of opportunities and moments. I never want to miss a moment. But I couldn’t have sat back then and said, ‘I’m going to be coach at the University of Miami.’ My goal wouldn’t have been this high. It scares me to set goals.Moments and opportunities. I said, ‘Yes,’ to something, which opened the door here. My mom said, ‘Yes,’ to my dad. I got all these siblings.”"

Meier’s life changed in an instant before she was born. It’s a lesson we can all learn from Hyde’s in-depth narrative on Meier’s background is the perfect triumph over extreme adversity. She was born without a father. She was part of a family with a single mother with four children age four and under.

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Two and a half years after Meier was born she gained Skolak as a stepfather and his four children became her siblings. For Meier, father’s day will always have a double meaning.