From the Sports Editor: Bill Meyers made athletes work hard, and it paid off

Bill Meyers

Bill Meyers

Bill Meyers didn’t particularly care if the kids liked him or not.

In his unofficial role as a conditioning coach for athletes at a few different area schools, Meyers’ only objective was to get the athletes to work hard.

“His motto was, ‘They can hate me, they all love their coaches,’” said Caesar Rodney High football coach Dan Candeloro. “He kind of took that on as his role of getting a team prepared.”

Candeloro first met Meyers when he was playing football at Delaware State in 1982. Like a lot of players, Candeloro resented the hard work Meyers made him do, at first.

“You’re mad, you’re disgruntled,” said Candeloro. “And then you get into a game, it’s late in the fourth quarter and you can reach down a little bit further. Then you realize. As you get older, you understand it and you carry it into your own life.”

A lot of the athletes Meyers worked with — at DSU, at Wesley College and at Caesar Rodney over the last several decades — appreciated him more after they graduated.

It’s the same kind of feeling now that he’s gone.

After battling illness throughout his life, Meyers died unexpectedly last week at the age of 64. He’d spent the last part of his life at CR, where he worked as a health teacher and equipment manager.

In the early days, he’d also help out as a trainer and work with the athletes on conditioning. Meyers used a cane to get around before finally switching to a motorized wheelchair the last few years.

To be sure, a big man, Meyers had a gruff exterior. But most people learned to appreciate him for the hard work he put in.

“We always said, Bill tolerated more pain than one person ever should in a day,” said Candeloro. “And still he was Bill. He was always out here, didn’t miss hardly any work. That’s how we knew.”

CR’s coaches knew that Meyers’ health was failing when he missed some practices this season. When he didn’t come out to the Riders’ home football game with Glen Mills, Pa., on Sept. 23, it was the first home grid contest anybody could remember him missing.

The son of a high school football coach in Pennsylvania, Meyers played the game a little bit himself. But his surviving family at the end was only one brother.

CR really became his family. Some of the school’s coaches lent a hand, helping him in and out of his vehicle and making sure he was OK at home.

Candeloro would like to think Meyers is in a better place now.

“He’s always looking down on us,” said Candeloro. “He’ll be able to see all the football games now.”

CR officials hope to hold a memorial service for Meyers sometime in the future. They’ll have a moment of silence for him before Friday’s home game with Sussex Tech.

Candeloro has told his players that the best way they can honor Meyers is to put everything they have into playing football.

Bill would accept nothing else.

“The kids understood him,” said Candeloro. “He was a tough guy. He was a high-demanding guy. He set rules and he followed them.”

Remembering Arnie

Once, when he was playing golf at North Carolina’s Finley Golf Course in college, Rick McCall hit an especially long drive.

“I really killed the drive on this par four,” recalled the Dover pro. “I had about 50 yards to the green.

“One of the guys on the team said, ‘You know, that’s not a bad drive.’ He said, ‘But when Palmer played this hole, he knocked it on the green.’”

Arnold Palmer, the golf legend who died last week at the age of 87, left behind a lot of great stories like that.

McCall has heard many of them.

A member of the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame, the 75-year-old McCall was actually once introduced to Palmer a number of years ago and talked to him for about 10 minutes.

“He was really a nice, nice fella,” said McCall. “All I can remember is how big his hands and how big his arms were. They were enormous.”

In the 1960s, McCall remembers Palmer playing an exhibition with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus at Wilmington Country Club.

McCall can also remember a mutual friend telling him an anecdote about Palmer.

Apparently the two men were walking about 100 yards, from the putting green to the pro shop, at one golf course.

“It took them 45 minutes,” said McCall. “He (Palmer) talked to everyone. He signed autographs.

“He probably did more for golf than anybody ever did or ever will. He was a one-of-a-kind of guy who treated everybody the same. … He brought golfers to the game. He’d go out of his way to talk to people, which I thought was wonderful. He’s really going to be missed.”

Odds & ends

•Former Smyrna High coach Buddy Lloyd and Milford High coach Roy Rigby will be inducted into the Delaware Wrestling Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Wilmington.

The 11th annual induction ceremony is slated for 5:30 p.m. at Timothy’s on the Riverfront. Lloyd and Rigby will be joined by Henry Milligan and Edward Janvier in this year’s Hall of Fame class.

•MaxPreps has Smyrna High’s 4-0 football team ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 174 in the country.

•In the Mid-Atlantic Region, Cape Henlopen is No. 13 and Delmar is No. 14 in field hockey according to MaxFieldhockey.com. Rained out earlier in the season, the Vikings and Wildcats are now slated to square off on Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. in Lewes.

•Saturday is one of those rare fall Saturdays when Wesley College, Delaware State and Delaware will all be playing home football games. The Wolverines host the College of New Jersey at 1 p.m., the Hornets host Hampton and 2 p.m. and the Blue Hens host Maine at 3:30 p.m.

•Cape Henlopen High grad Tyre Maull, a sophomore offensive lineman at Stevenson University, has started all five games this season for the 5-0 Mustangs.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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