Frank "Dutch" Meyer, a retired wrestling coach and professor in Catawba College’s physical education
department, held court on Saturday, Nov. 4, Catawba’s Homecoming.
More than a hundred of his former students, colleagues and friends lined up to greet him before the start of a 10:30 a.m. ceremony which dedicated the Auxiliary Gymnasium of the Abernethy Physical Education Center to him. Though wheelchair-bound, Meyer, with wife Maggie by his side, shook hands, shared laughs, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the attention directed at him.
Catawba College Senior Vice President Tom Childress, a former student of Meyer’s, recalled taking a summer gymnastics class under him at Appalachian State in 1963. "I thought I was going to earn a ‘gimme A,’ " Childress remembered, "but instead I got a hard-earned ‘B’ and felt lucky to get it."
College President Dr. Robert Knott said of Meyer that "his intensity was something we all understood – helping young people succeed." He told Meyer that the dedication ceremony was just an example of "how dear we hold you in our hearts and minds."
The comments and remarks of Dr. Patricia "Pat" Whitley, a colleague of Meyer, carried those gathered from laughter to tears. "It’s a good day to work!" she said loudly, mimicking Meyer’s well-known motto. "Get your cognitive going!" "Keep it simple, stupid!" she added, citing two other of Meyer’s much-used phrases.
Calling Meyer "a pioneer," Whitley remembered that many of Catawba’s firsts were directly due to his hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears. "He has fought many battles trying to do what is best for his staff, students, and wrestlers," she said. "Because of you, Dutch, among us are graduates with careers in corrective therapy, health education, physical education and teacher certification, athletic training, sports management and recreation.
"Because of his tireless effort and determination to be the best teacher and coach possible, he has had knee replacement, rotator cuff surgery, and multiple injuries incurred demonstrating every skill to be mastered and modeling a physically fit person.
"On the wrestling mats, he wrestled at every practice, going against some of the best, doing the takedowns and moves, some of which I feel sure he invented," Whitley continued. "Because of family circumstances, he had to give up coaching, but he has never given up the dream that someday wrestling will return to Catawba as one of the winningest sports."
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Meyer earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska, his master’s degree from the University of Colorado, and his doctorate from the University of West Virginia. He joined Catawba College in 1969 as a professor in the Physical Education Department. A member of that academic department until 2005, he served as its chair from 1969 until 1990. He initiated the institution’s Athletic Training Program.
He served as Catawba’s wrestling coach from 1970 through 1983, and led his team to 13 winning seasons. In 1983, he was tapped as the NAIA’s Wrestling Coach of the Year for District 26, and served as the area representative for wrestling in NAIA Area VII between 1971 and 1974.
His honors and recognitions are numerous. He received the Herne Swink Award as Catawba’s outstanding classroom teacher in 1982, the Phi Epsilon Award for campus leadership and outstanding character in 1988. In 1997, he was inducted into Catawba’s Sports Hall of Fame. He was recognized by the N.C. Athletic Association as the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award.
Active in the community, he started the cardiac rehabilitation program with Rowan Regional Hospital using Catawba College’s facilities.
He and wife Maggie, whom he married in 1955, are longtime members of John Calvin Presbyterian Church and parents of three children.
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