Roger Meek

This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society.  Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.

This interview provided by WPBK-FM radio station.

LINCOLN COUNTY ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS 

ROGER MEEK INTERVIEWED BY PHIL PENDLETON 

July 18, 2013 

 
Mr. Pendleton: All right, we are talking to Roger Meek here.  You were head coach at Memorial High School from 1970, ’71 through ’73 and ’74.  Where were you prior to that? 

Mr. Meek: Uh, in Springfield, Ohio at a county school; it was a fairly small school, but we had quite a good record up there.  I actually enjoyed coaching up there quite a bit. 

Mr. Pendleton: Where did you attend high school at? 

Mr. Meek: My high school was in what is now Johnson Central in Johnson County.  It was…before it was that, it was one of the small schools kind of like Lincoln County that consolidated into Johnson Central.   

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: And, the name of it was Meade Memorial. 

Mr. Pendleton: Okay, and what about college? 

Mr. Meek: I went to Pikeville College, played a couple of years there and transferred into U.K. then, and never did play anymore then. 

Mr. Pendleton: You played basketball there? 

Mr. Meek: At Pikeville? 

Mr. Pendleton: Yes. 

Mr. Meek: Yes, uh huh (yes).  I didn’t even try out at U.K. 

Mr. Pendleton: Now, talking about Lincoln County High School, when, of course…there was…that was when there was the consolidation of all the schools…. 

Mr. Meek: Right. 

Mr. Pendleton: And, then you were selected to be the first coach of Lincoln County High School.  Talk about that. 

(laughing) 

Mr. Meek: There’s not much to talk about, I don’t guess.  We…we really…there were five schools in the county, I think, at that time, and, I think, right at that time, Waynesburg Memorial, which…the old Memorial building where I was coaching, we had a couple of good records there.  We had a couple of trips to the region, and I guess, they thought, maybe married (sic), I’m not sure, maybe politics, I’m not sure (laughing)…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Do you know what your win/loss record was at both schools? 

Mr. Meek: No, no, Phil, I really don’t. 

Mr. Pendleton: Okay. 

Mr. Meek: I just never did keep up with that sort of thing. 

Mr. Pendleton: You were fortunate enough to take two teams to the Sweet Sixteen in 1975 and 1980.  I’m sure that was pretty exciting to take…. 

Mr. Meek: Very exciting, yes.  Whenever I was playing in high school, we got to go, so, I knew the importance of it, how exciting it was and what it would mean to the kids and also I was really excited for a team of my own.  In fact, the first year that we went, my high school coach from Johnson Central had a team in the Sweet Sixteen that year. 

Mr. Pendleton: Wow. 

Mr. Meek: And, so, that made it special for me. 

Mr. Pendleton: Was there as much excitement then as there is now? 

Mr. Meek: Truthfully, I think, probably, more, to be honest about it. 

Mr. Pendleton: Really, it was a bigger deal back then? 

Mr. Meek: Yes, yes, and then, probably a combination of reasons; I don’t think…well, we didn’t have soccer, we didn’t have volleyball, we didn’t have a lot of these other sports that drew from the regular kids, so…and it seemed like the support our first year…we had a really nice ball club that first year, and it seemed like it just kind of helped consolidate…pull the people together from all the five other schools. 

Mr. Pendleton: Was it at Freedom Hall back then; Louisville? 

Mr. Meek: (Laughing) you’re taxing my mind now.  We had gone to Freedom Hall the first year.  Well, in fact, I guess the second year was probably Freedom Hall.   I was trying to think, because whenever I played in the state tournament back in ’58, why, it was at Memorial Coliseum there. 

Mr. Pendleton: Oh, wow, that’s something else. 

Mr. Meek: Yeah (laughing). 

Mr. Pendleton: Now, when I think about taking a small school to a big arena, regardless of whether it’s Freedom Hall or Rupp Arena or something like that, as a coach, is it kind of like that Gene Hackman moment in Hoosiers…. 

Mr. Meek: (laughing). 

Mr. Pendleton: Where he’s measuring the length of the floor…. 

Mr. Meek: (laughing). 

Mr. Pendleton: And he’s measuring…is this the same height of the basketball…. 

Mr. Meek: (laughing). 

Mr. Pendleton: Are the kids going, oh my gosh…. 

Mr. Meek: (laughing). 

Mr. Pendleton: Are they looking up and seeing…is it that kind of feeling? 

Mr. Meek: (laughing) yeah, you have to imagine, some of the kids really, probably, hadn’t been very far out of Lincoln County. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: And, so, I do remember the assistant coach, Johnny Wilder, as we walked in to see the whole arena, the kids all came up together, the same time, and I remember him nudging me to look at one of our kids, that was a starter for us, but his eyes had really gotten big (laughing).  So, yeah, it was that kind of moment.  And, of course, the excitement of the people around; our fans were great.  They followed us everywhere.  And, so, I was real…real happy for…well, for the kids, myself and for, you know, the community, all right.   

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: It was a big time; it was a great time. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh, do you think it was the result of merging an all-star team from five different schools that helped to have that much talent all coming together? 

Mr. Meek: Oh, yeah, no doubt; no doubt.  Uh, it…that certainly…because we had…I had actually coached against these kids, see, the ones that were playing for me now. (laughing) 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: So, I knew some of their weaknesses and some of their strengths.  So, yeah, we…I think pulled…pulled the whole group together, then, of course, from different backgrounds.  You know, there were some advantages and some disadvantages, because you had to break some old habits that they had gotten away with in the other schools and so on, and…so…but…but we all pulled together quite well, I think.  And, then, of course, the ’80 team, they were all mine then…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Hmm. 

Mr. Meek: Then, of course, everybody thought, you know, well, he’s lucky because he got everybody else’s good team, good players…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: Which is true; there’s a certain amount of truth in that. 

Mr. Pendleton: What about that very first Sweet Sixteen team; any memories that really stand out; anything that really just stands out from that team? 

Mr. Meek: Other than Lincoln County being placed on the map, you know, as far as that, as an athletic ball club and a school and I think, probably, we really had some…some good talent on that team…some talent that, of course, I hadn’t been able to do an awfully lot with (laughing)…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: Because, like I said, I had coached against all the time.  But, I don’t…it seemed like mid-season, the fan base had kind of gelled and decided, well, we’ve got a nice ball club, you know, we might have a shot of doing something great. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: And, so, it was really just an effort, on everybody’s part, I think, that really made it happen for it. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: The support of fans, of course, applauding the kids and being there for them and all that. 

Mr. Pendleton: Did being a part of either the ’75 or the ’80 team, just going to Lexington, or going to Louisville, wherever the tournaments were, being in a bigger city, being in a bigger arena, you know, playing in that atmosphere, was that just almost like an overwhelming moment for some of the kids? 

Mr. Meek: I’m sure it was.  I’m sure it was.  We…we didn’t…I didn’t feel like we got our best performances out of some of our better members.  And, I think it was through an awe…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: You know, of being there and the excitement of…and I’m sure they didn’t sleep. 

(laughing) 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: I’m sure, you know, the kids, of course, they were giddy, they eat out at a nice restaurant and then, eating really well, and…so, I think…in fact, Phil, it’s strange, you know, I’ve always  said up about that time, they alternated Louisville and Lexington. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: But, I always said, you know, Louisville usually dominated, whenever we were in…when it was being held in Louisville.  And, I always said that they had the advantage of having their own bed to sleep in, their own set of circumstances, you know.  And, whenever they had to come to Lexington, then, well, it changed.   

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: And, then they…Louisville hasn’t dominated like they did back then. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: And, I think that’s probably a whole lot of it, really. 

Mr. Pendleton: Hmm; now, did you resign after the ’80 season? 

Mr. Meek: No, I stayed on another year.   

Mr. Pendleton: Okay. 

Mr. Meek: I stayed on and then I took a principalship then, after that. 

Mr. Pendleton: And, when you took the principalship, is that when you resigned from coaching? 

Mr. Meek: Yes, uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Pendleton: What about your days at Memorial?  Talk about your memories there. 

Mr. Meek: Oh, just a neat little school.  It was much like the one that I grew up…that I had gone to school in.  It’s odd that the name Memorial is the same as (laughing) the one I was at, Meade Memorial, whereas this was Waynesburg Memorial, and, yeah, it was just a unique experience for me.  But, see, I had coached five years in Ohio. 

Mr. Pendleton: Hmm. 

Mr. Meek: So, I kind of had a base.  In fact, I had a team up there that had done quite well.  And, we, in fact, got to go play in the old Cincinnati Royals gymnasium. 

Mr. Pendleton: Oh, wow. 

Mr. Meek: Yeah; it was kind of dilapidated at that point. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: They had already moved on.  But, I remember telling the kids, guys, Oscar Robinson shot that good jump shot from right about here (laughing). 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah; yeah, um…. 

Mr. Meek: But, it…that school in Ohio that I coached my first five years was…was similar in the support that we had had back at Lincoln; you know, the team that…we had a team that was equal to one of the top sixteen teams in the state up there.  And, they went bananas, because they hadn’t had anything like that either, you know. 

(laughing) 

Mr. Pendleton: Does any other games or any other contests really stand out as like, wow, that was an interesting game or the way that game was officiated, or that team…. 

Mr. Meek:(laughing) 

Mr. Pendleton: Just any moments of Lincoln County High School that really…. 

Mr. Meek: You’re…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Stand…. 

Mr. Meek: Trying to get me to fuss at the referees, I can tell. 

Mr. Pendleton: (laughing). 

Mr. Meek: I really didn’t have a bad reputation for getting technical or anything, but I do remember in the eighty…the last game of the ’80 season before going into tournament, that I got two technicals in the same game, and I hadn’t had a technical in years…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Oh, wow. 

Mr. Meek: Prior to that.  And, that was down in Wayne County.  (laughing)  So…but, other than that, no, we…there were some great moments, obviously, of…I’ve been fortunate of having some really good…good kids. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: Some talented kids; some kids that you don’t have problems with and things like that. 

Mr. Pendleton: Do you still keep in touch with any of your former players? 

Mr. Meek: Well, even one in Ohio (laughing) that ended up being a high school coach himself. 

Mr. Pendleton: Wow. 

Mr. Meek: So, we have stayed in touch for years with that…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Hmm. 

Mr. Meek: But, the local guys, I’ll get to see them around occasionally, Tommy Owsley, of course, had set several records over at Berea College and I get to see him once every year or two or something like that, and, of course, Curt Folger, our sheriff, played on that first team…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Oh, neat. 

Mr. Meek: And, our state representative’s dad played for me on that team, Don Meade. 

Mr. Pendleton: Oh, neat. 

Mr. Meek: (Laughing) so, there’s a lot of things like that, but, you know, you go back and you think, well, some of your better kids, some of the kids that you enjoyed probably as much or more than others, why, it’s…you take Julian Walls…I don’t know if you remember Julian, but super good kid, talented kid and smooth, and I always said, you know, that’s the type of kid that any coach could win with, you  know. 

Mr. Pendleton: That’s really all the questions that I had, or John had.  Anything else that you would like to add?  Any other…as you’ve been talking, thinking about any other memories that you want to add or share about? 

Mr. Meek: I just remember that we did put a lot of excitement in Lincoln County as a community.  I think everybody got charged up for that. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah; now, one of the things that Bill Ed Leedy told me…I was interviewing him from a football standpoint…. 

Mr. Meek: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Pendleton: He shared some memories and actually even got a little tear in his eye when he talked about this.  He said, I had a kid come up to me one time and said, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be the first in my family to graduate high school. 

Mr. Meek: Oh, okay. 

Mr. Pendleton: Did you ever have any moments like that, you know, that…where sports really put everything into perspective, I guess you could say? 

Mr. Meek: I can’t think of anything that dramatic.  I just…I do know that whenever I played high school, I didn’t even…of course, we are going back several years…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: I didn’t even really get to make the team as an 8th grader myself.  In fact, I don’t think I made it as a freshman. 

Mr. Pendleton: Hmm. 

Mr. Meek: And, then, I ended up being the only senior on a team that went to the state that year. 

Mr. Pendleton: Oh, wow. 

Mr. Meek: So, there was a lot of transformation of course during that time, but…and I think I’ve told the kids over the years, you know, hey, work hard and I think you can overcome.  And, I know for myself that athletics had really…had brightened my life and career through the involvement of getting to do something that you really enjoyed doing, you know.   

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah, exactly. 

Mr. Meek: It wasn’t necessarily a job then. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: It was a pleasantry.  It was the good part of life, you know. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: So, I’m sure there’s other things, I just hadn’t really thought about it, but, I can’t help but believe that any kid that participates in athletics now, it has to be good for them, if nothing else, just the discipline. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: Just getting them off the couch. (laughing)  Get away from the t.v. 

Mr. Pendleton: Away from the video games or whatever. 

Mr. Meek: And being involved…and…and what it does, it helps build camaraderie with a group of other…you know, others…. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: And…and…I think that…I know over the years, I’ve experienced getting to see people that I have played against and it’s always pleasant to be able to go up and talk to them about good times, old…bad times or whatever (laughing) cause we always usually try to say who won and neither one of us probably knew. 

Mr. Pendleton: Yeah. 

Mr. Meek: But, uh…no, it…I think athletics certainly is a good thing, and I would like to encourage anybody that has that interest, why, to stay with it.  You’ll go through some tough times. 

Mr. Pendleton: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. Meek: I remember myself getting my eye cut one night and I came in and my dad said, why don’t you quit that foolishness.  

(laughing) 

Mr. Meek: And, to him, it was, sort of.  I mean, anything that looks like you’ve been in a fight over, I guess he thought it was foolish. 

Mr. Pendleton: Okay; all right. 

 

END OF INTERVIEW

 

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