Archive for Thursday, January 29, 2004

Lady Jags’ coach brings D-I experience to Mill Valley

January 29, 2004

It is not often that a high school kid can say that they played for an NCAA Division-I coach. Fortunately the Mill Valley girls have that luxury, as Betsy Meeks was hired last year to coach the girls. Meeks is happy to be coaching at the high school level.

"High school basketball is the purest form of basketball," Meeks said. "High School is where your coaching could shine because have this group of kids and you have to make them into basketball players."

Mill Valley athletic director Matt Bohm couldn't be happier to have a coach like Meeks.

"We pretty much lucked out hiring her," Bohm said. "When I read her resume, I was just floored because a hire like that doesn't happen very often."

Betsy Meeks starred at Salina South high school where she drew numerous honors in sports. She was an all-state basketball player and a state champion in track. Meeks took home the gold in the 100 and 400 meters.

During her high school basketball career, Meeks did not receive a lot of attention from Division 1 schools.

"I went to summer camps at K-State and fell in love with the program," Meeks said. "Unfortunately the wildcat coaching staff felt that I as too short at 5'4."

Meeks went on to attend K-State in the fall and came across a flyer telling about tryouts to the women's basketball team. The tryouts were that day and Meeks rushed home to get her shoes and equipment and barely made it to the tryouts.

Meeks made the team and eventually became part of the most successful basketball team in Kansas State women's history from 1979--83. During Meeks career, the Wildcats went 100--33 and made it to the Sweet 16 and to the Elite Eight. Meeks also ran track for 2 years at Kansas State.

After a successful college career, Meeks worked basketball camps in the summer and the camps are where she first started to have the urge to coach. The 23 year old Meeks got hired as an assistant coach at Manhattan High in 1983 and would be hired as the head coach in 1986. Meeks posted a 98 -- 37 record while coaching at Manhattan.

"It was a big risk for the Manhattan people to hire me because I was fresh out of college," Meeks said. "I owe a lot to Manhattan high for taking that risk."

Meeks would coach at Manhattan High school until 1991 when she eventually got married. She taught and coached cross-country at Shawnee Mission Northwest until 1992 when college coaching called her name.

Meeks got hired to coach the Johnson County Community College women's basketball team in 1992 and she remained at Johnson County until 1996. Meeks would interview for the head coaching vacancy on the K--State women's team. Although Meeks didn't get the position at K--State that went to current coach Deb Patterson, she was one of the final three candidates for the position.

Betsy Meeks moved on to the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) where she took a job as an assistant coach under Former UMKC head coach Jeff Tadtman and now head women's basketball coach at Carl Albers State College. Tadtman was more than happy to give praise to his former assistant coach.

"Mill Valley couldn't be luckier and more fortunate to have Betsy as their head coach," Tadtman said. "She is a great teacher of the game, is very patient, and she has the ability to communicate with her players and I would recommend her for any job that comes up."

"She was a finalist for the head coaching position at Kansas State which should say something," Tadtman said.

"She has a great balance with work and family and she is just a great person," Tadtman said. "She is a great person and I am happy to say that I can call her a friend through all these years."

After her time at UMKC, Betsy Meeks decided to retire from the game for a while as she took on a full time job at home with her three kids.

"I couldn't handle the traveling and the recruiting with my family at home," Meeks said.

After six years of being out of the coaching ranks, Betsy Meeks decided to coach again.

The MVHS girls coaching job opened up and Meeks was hired.

Meek's effects on Mill Valley's team are beginning to show. The team finished 8--13 last year; the Lady Jags now are 5--4. Mill Valley currently has a winning record for the first time in school history.

"Last year when I first came here, I had the girls so confused because I had so much information for them," Meeks said. "Once the girls started figuring out my system they started winning."

The players were intimidated with her experience at first, but it didn't take them long to buy into her system.

"Everything she does she makes us better," Mill Valley junior Kendra Corley said.

Betsy Meeks has high hopes for the program and would like to see Mill Valley become a state powerhouse, but she is proud of her current Lady Jags.

"The girls are so much better than last year and have come such a long way which takes a lot of commitment," Meeks said. "My long term goal would be to dominate the league and have a state berth year round."

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