Mark Meyer — A volunteer who "goes farther" to make a difference
From the jump-ball tip off to the final buzzer at Chugiak High School varsity basketball games, he’s always there — a stocky figure with an easy laugh who can be seen busily recording data, huddling with the team and spurring them on. Over the past 25 years, Mustang coaches have come and gone, the names of team members have changed, but Eagle River’s Mark Meyer is still there — from the gym floor to the locker room — a quiet yet unwavering force behind the team.
Meyer began his association with the basketball team in 1988, when Jon Schroeder was the coach. He has continued ever since — seldom missing a home or an away game. The coach following Schroeder was Monty Boston, and today it’s Kevin Fullmer, who describes Mark as “indispensable.”
“If I want to get something done for me, I just tell them I know Mark,” he says with a smile.
Meyer’s main job as assistant coach is to record game data and make that available to the coach and players between games. An average season includes about 22 games, half of which are on the road.
“We used to record all of the team statistics manually and it was quite difficult to keep up in a fast-paced game,” he says. “But now we use a Palm Pilot and iPad and all of the data are entered electronically. It’s really made things more efficient.”
Mark and his wife Peggy, a special education teacher at Birchwood ABC Elementary, came to Alaska from Florida in 1981 and settled in Eagle River. At the time Mark was in the U.S. Air Force and re-assigned to the dental clinic at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
After completing a 23-year military career in 1988, he became Teacher Assistant for the Anchorage School District. Following that he went to work for the State of Alaska Department of Corrections. He later transferred to the State Department of Transportation (DOT) and in 2010, retired from the state.
For about 20 years Mark was Commissioner of the Eagle River Men’s Basketball League through the Community Schools Program; and for about 25 years both he and his wife Peggy volunteered for Special Olympics, which included running Eagle River’s Youth Program at the local bowling alley.
In 2010 Mark received the Ernest Gruening Award from Chugiak High School for outstanding school and community service. Mustang basketball coach Kevin Fullmer was the recipient in 2012.
Modest and soft spoken, Mark says he’s enjoyed all the volunteer work over the years and especially likes being involved with the Chugiak basketball team.
“I really like helping the kids and watching them develop and grow,” he says. “And it’s good to stay busy.”
Lest the player names and faces fade over all the years, Mark tries to keep up with them through Facebook.
“Just recently I contacted one of our past team members, Jeremy Dukes, who is now in the military and stationed in Kansas,” says Mark. “I’ve spent a lot of gym hours with so many of these great kids — it’s good to know how they’re doing and what they’re up to.”
Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River. To contact Frank: firstname.lastname@example.org.