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Jeff Meeker: Cornell College's Winningest Volleyball Coach, Iowa

As told by Jace Delancey, Jeremy Kline, Megan Zobac, Paige Emig, Kailey Shannon, and Sam Stoner
Mount Vernon, Iowa

Story Narrative:

Jeff Meeker, head coach of women’s volleyball at Cornell College, has over 15 years of experience. Over his tenure, Jeff has improved the volleyball program by encouraging his players to be the most successful, positive, and hardworking people on and off the court. He has a record of over 300 wins and several conference victories. Jeff also has won the title “coach of the year” a total of eight times. Assistant coaches Brianna Strong and Polly Blythe tell us in this video about Meeker’s positivity towards his players and his passion about the Cornell volleyball program. Also interviewed are his daughter who plays for Cornell, Sydney, and the Athletic Director, Keith Hackett. Video created by Mount Vernon sophomores Jace Delancey, Jeremy Kline, Megan Zobac, Paige Emig, Kailey Shannon, and Sam Stoner


Sydney Meeker: Well, my dad is the head volleyball coach at Cornell College. He's been coaching there since, I believe, 2002, when we first moved to Mount Vernon.

Brianna Strong: [0:15] We are probably the best of friends.

Polly Blythe: [0:18] He cares about those girls a lot, and he cares about his program a lot.

Keith Hackett: [0:22] You know, he's a good family man.

Sydney Meeker: [0:26] He's a pretty goofy guy.

Keith Hackett: [0:27] He's changed the culture of volleyball here. He knows the kinda young people that he needs to recruit to have success in this league.

Brianna Strong: [0:35] He makes the team successful by one, recruiting. He's a really good recruiter, bringing student athletes in here.

Jeff Meeker: [0:42] Biggest challenge here at Cornell is recruiting student athletes that are gonna help us be nationally competitive. So we've been very successful at the conference level here. We've been to the national tournament six out of the last seven years.

Keith Hackett: [0:58] And I just think that he is exactly the kind of person that recruits the kind of players that are gonna have success in his system.

Brianna Strong: [1:07] And then when they do come here, he's great with training. He's great with, like I said, being relatable to players. They feel comfortable with him. As a coach, I think he is able to relate to players really well, especially being a female coach, he's able to understand and be thoughtful.

Polly Blythe: [1:28] So he uses those feelings when he coaches, and I think that's just such an unusual thing for a male coach.

Brianna Strong: [1:36] He's really funny, he's easy to get along with.

Sydney Meeker: [1:41] One of the awesome things about him as a coach is when he's mad, I know he's mad, I can tell. But he never yells, he never gets negative. He's always very calm and positive with his advice.

Polly Blythe: [1:53] Jeff is probably one of the most positive people that I know.

Sydney Meeker: [1:56] The more I, now, myself understand the game, the more I can understand how he really does know what he's talking about, and he always has an idea. While I may not have known it at first, I have come to realize it throughout the years.

Keith Hackett: [2:12] Meeker is an outstanding coach, he does a great job in our community. He's very connected, he's very connected on campus as well. So his job doesn't just exist here, in this building. It exists across campus. He's very, very active in the community, and I think those are things that are critical if you're gonna be successful in collegiate coaching.

Brianna Strong: [2:37] You really have to earn his trust, in order for him to feel comfortable with letting you run practice, or letting you run a drill.

Keith Hackett: [2:45] Before coach was our head volleyball coach, I don't think we had the level of success as we've had over the last several years. I think we've won the conference tournament seven of the last eight years.

Brianna Strong: [2:58] So for practice, we have the same goal coming in to practice. All the players know we're gonna be the best possible teammate, we're gonna have the best possible attitude, and we're gonna give our best possible effort every single time.

Jeff Meeker: [3:11] Our players provide their best possible effort, so the value of hard work is really important in our program.

Sydney Meeker: [3:18] Actually, one of our sayings in the gym is to always be the best possible teammate, have the best possible attitude, and we always give best possible effort. And just following those three things really do make you a better player. Those are three of the definitely most important parts of volleyball.

Polly Blythe: [3:38] He spends an awful lot of time watching film, analyzing each and every component of not only our girls' skills, and how they performed in whatever match, he looks at how their going to match up against another team's offense. So he spends a lot of time not only watching and analyzing our team, but he also analyzes the other teams.

Keith Hackett: [[4:04] He just loves to coach. He feels the most comfortable, of anywhere on campus, the most comfortable he is, is when he's on the volleyball court.

Jeff Meeker: [4:17] And then we encourage our players to bring their best possible attitude every day. So having a positive outlook on what we're doing in the gym, and what they're trying to accomplish at Cornell, is really important. And then perhaps the most important thing we try and teach is to help our players learn how to be great teammates. And that's something that coaches always talk about, it's easier said than done. And it's a hugely important part of being successful as a team. 'Cause even when maybe things aren't going your way as a player, how do you make sure you're contributing to what we're trying to do as a team? So being a great teammate is very important. Responsibility, commitment, those are two things that we think are very important as well.

Asset ID: 2018.11
Themes: Sports, volleyball, women, coaching
Date recorded: 2018
Length of recording: 5:21 m
Related traveling exhibition: Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG), Mount Vernon, Iowa
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