My connection to Miami basketball Coach Katie Meier through our fathers

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 28: A general view of Bruce Brown
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 28: A general view of Bruce Brown /

Through a column by the Sun Sentinel’s Dave Hyde on Friday I learned that Miami basketball coach Katie Meier and I are connected by more than our love of the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami basketball coach Katie Meier’s father Jerry died in an airplane crash when her mother Phyllis was just four months pregnant with her. When Katie was born she had siblings who were four, three and two. Jerry played basketball at DePaul under Hall of Fame coach Ray Meyer.

Katie Meier and my stories eerily mirror each other in many ways. My father, Ron Rubenstein played at Louisville and was on the Cardinals first Final Four team in 1959. The likelihood is that he played against Jerry Meier in college. Meier’s ascent to becoming the Miami basketball coach was greatly influenced by her late father.

Katie Meier inherited her father’s genes as a basketball player and exceeded them.  I was not as fortunate to have those elite genes passed down to me athletically. The tragedy that the Meier family went through is also something I can mostly relate to. The confluence of our two fathers likely playing against each other shrinks the world.

My father’s best friend growing up was one of the best players in DePaul history, Howie Carl. Also known by his nickname Hershey, he averaged 20 points per game in three seasons with the Blue Demons after transferring from Illinois. Carl would marry my mom’s cousin, Judy.

Like Katie, Carl’s sons Adam and Josh were star high school basketball players. Adam played collegiately at Bradley and Wisconsin. As the confluence of events with all of this ties back to Katie Meier, Josh succeeded former Duke basketball star Chris Collins as the point guard at Glenbrook North high school in Northbrook, Illinois.

I wrote about my own father’s exploits in 2017 on the Chicago Sportist Blog for Chicago Now (formerly the Chicago Tribune’s blog site). My father has been a great multi-sport athlete and accomplished more athletically in different sports than most professional athletes in the big four sports.

When Katie Meier was a high school basketball player in Wheaton, Illinois, someone approached her and asked if her father was Jerry. Hyde conveyed 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.”"

I can very much relate to this sentiment. Whenever anyone heard my last name I always got asked if I was Ronnie’s son growing up. Our fathers are not the only connection that I have with Katie Meier. I can very much relate to what Katie’s mother went through.

Katie Meier's fathers had very different impacts on her life. dark. Next

I had four children four and under when my ex-wife was hospitalized for seven months from August 2011 through March 2012. She became paralyzed with an illness called an epidural abscess. It was nearly fatal. For nearly four years I was a single father. My ex gained custody with her family in May 2015.