Carrabec High School boys basketball coach Erik Carey prepares his players for a Jan. 17 game against Dirigo. The players were wearing warm-up shirts provided by the family of the late Dick Meader. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Generations apart, Lillian Cooley and Molly Hay never knew Dick Meader.

The two Carrabec players, though, do bear the legendary Maine basketball figure’s influence — in fact, they wear it every day.

Along with the rest of the Carrabec girls basketball team, Cooley and Hay are frequently seen sporting matching pairs of green-and-white Converse sneakers. They were gifts to the team by the Meader family last month following the death of the coaching legend in October. Meader was 76.

“We love them, and the entire team wears them on game days to represent,” said Hay, proudly wearing the shoes alongside Cooley following her team’s 46-28 home victory over Dirigo on Jan. 17. “We were shocked (to receive them); it was such a nice thing for the family to do.”

The gifts, which included new warmups for the boys team, were how the Meader family chose to honor Dick’s memory within the community following his passing in October. It’s a memory that’s lasted at the school that long ago replaced the one he attended — and well beyond those who learned from him over the years.

You don’t have to go far to find someone who’s felt Meader’s impact personally. Between his 17 years coaching the Thomas College men, the 27 years coaching the University of Maine at Farmington men and the 38 years running Pine Tree Basketball camps, the number of players he’s mentored stretches into the thousands. Listing the accolades he’s received and the hall of fames into which he’s been inducted would take more time than I have to write this column on deadline.


Yet Erik Carey, Carrabec’s athletic director and head boys basketball coach, said Meader never carried himself like a big shot. He was willing to give his time and expertise to anyone, whether you were a star player on his team or the parent of a prospective fifth-grade basketball player. That’s why, when Meader’s son, Daren, reached out about providing gifts to the Carrabec basketball teams, Carey wasn’t the least bit nonplussed.

“I had the opportunity to learn from Coach Meader from clinics and through talking to him, and the thing that amazed me about him was he always had time for you,” Carey said. “Here’s an incredibly successful coach who has every right in the world to not talk to somebody like me who was coaching junior high at the time, but he always made you feel like the only person that mattered. So, when Daren reached out to me, I was not surprised because it made sense that (Dick) would raise his family like that.”

Unlike many of my colleagues and predecessors at the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal, I never met Dick Meader personally. Not only did I not attend school in Maine, I had never set foot in the state until I accepted a job here in August 2016. Working in Ellsworth until last year, Meader’s University of Maine at Farmington men’s program was well outside of my coverage area, which consisted primarily of Hancock County.

When I learned of his death and was assigned the story on the Maine basketball community’s reaction, though, I almost felt as if I did. I spent nearly a full day on the phone with Meader’s former players, colleagues and more with just about every one of them sharing memories and praising his character while navigating a tremendous sense of loss. I probably had about six or seven of those conversations; had I made 100 more calls, I probably would have had 100 more.

If there was one lasting message I had from those conversations, it was that Meader stood the test of time. From 3-point lines to shot clocks to offense and defensive systems, modern basketball is fundamentally a different game from the sport Meader played at Solon High School in the 1960s. Yet as those who spoke of him would attest, Meader was the master of incorporating new trends; the game never passed him by.

“Father Time is undefeated” is an overused cliché in the sports world, but there’s a lot of truth to those four words. Time changes our communities, even those in small-town Maine; it separates us from friends and family, whether through the generations or as our lives take on different paths; it even ends seemingly timeless careers such as that of Meader, who said so succinctly upon retiring in March 2020: “It’s time.”


What time doesn’t do, though, is take away legacies, memories or impacts. Right now, there are younger players such as the Carrabec girls team’s Cooley, Hay and the boys team’s Luke Carey and Joel Gehrke who never met Meader in person and can’t regale you with personal stories of his past or testaments of his character. But those young players, too, know of his significance and have even felt a sense of loss. 

“As a community, I think we’ve gotten closer (since his passing),” said Hay, whose sentiments were echoed by Cooley, Carey and Gehrke. “The family was so generous and such a nice family; we got to talk to them in person, and they stayed and watched us play. It definitely feels like the basketball community and the Carrabec Cobras have really come together.”

Carrabec girls basketball players sit on their bench, many in their new sneakers courtesy of the family of the late Dick Meader, during a Jan. 17 game against Dirigo. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Carrabec players, as Hay said, were overwhelmingly appreciative of the gifts. The boys received the warmup jackets ahead of the Dec. 10 season opener against Hall-Dale, and the girls received the sneakers, which resemble those worn by Meader during his playing days at Solon, before their Dec. 28 Capital City Hoops Classic game against Winthrop at the Augusta Civic Center.

Receiving the gifts, Daren Meader said, brought instant smiles to the players’ faces. In the case of the girls team, it also preceded some of Carrabec’s most inspiring play of the year as the Cobras, who started 0-4, defeated a Winthrop team among Class C South’s best that night for their first victory of the season. The team hasn’t lost since.

It wasn’t a cheap endeavor for the Meaders, who spent roughly $2,000, with the warmups costing $100 each and the sneakers costing $70 apiece. Still, the money was worth it for the family, and the gifts, Daren Meader said, are unlikely to be the last he and his kin give to Carrabec basketball.   

“We’ve talked about doing something like this every year,” Meader said. “Maybe it’s something else next year, but we just want to give back. … My dad was always very proud of his background. He loved going back there and going to his old high school gym; he loved his roots, and he loved where he came from.”

Carrabec might not be Dick Meader’s old school, but Solon, as it says on the high school gymnasium wall, is part of Cobra Country as one of four towns in Regional School Unit 74. From warmup jackets to sneakers to the next set of gifts the family donates next year, there will be traces of Meader at the Anson school for years to come.

Decades from now, should the Meaders still be gifting apparel or either items, there will be players at Carrabec who had yet to be born at the time of Dick Meader’s passing wearing pieces of his legacy. Although they’d only know him from photos, news clippings and stories, they’d be no less beneficiaries of his impact, even if indirectly.

Touching the lives of everyone, even those he’d never met. That was — and still is — Dick Meader.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.