Dick Meader knew this was going to be his last year. Then the whole University of Maine at Farmington community knew. Pretty soon, the rest of the state was catching on.

As the open secret spread, however, it never found its way into the UMF men’s basketball team’s practices. Meader made sure of it.

“He never talked about it once all year,” senior Riley Robinson said. “He’s not one to talk about himself. He’s very unselfish.”

The news became official Thursday, however, as the school announced that Meader, 73, is retiring at the end of the academic year. Meader’s retirement will end a 44-year coaching career that saw him spend 27 years at UMF and 17 at Thomas College, and compile 513 victories. He was also inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as the Halls for Thomas and UMF, and was named the North Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year for the fifth time this season.

Dick Meader stepped down Thursday after 27 years as the University of Maine at Farmington men’s basketball head coach. UMF athletics photo

Even before it started, however, Meader knew it would be the last one.

“It’s time,” said Meader, who also coached baseball at UMF from 1993-2010. “I don’t want to be an anchor to anything. I just feel good about it, that it’s time to do it. A couple of years ago, I knew it wasn’t time. But commuting from Waterville to Farmington every day, it’s just time to do something else.”

Meader suffers from Parkinson’s disease and credited assistant coaches Jim Bessey, Jared Browne and Nate Carson with helping him run this year’s team, which set the program record for wins in a season while going 22-5 and reaching the NAC final.

“I wanted to finish out with our senior group, which has been so loyal,” Meader said. “It was tough announcing it, because I wanted to make sure the season was about them, not about me.”

Meader counted among his highlights the opportunity to coach his sons Lance and Daren, as well as the chances to teach one wave of players after another.

“I love practices,” he said. “I love preparing for them, those types of situations. Just trying to find something that will help us get better, and spending the time in practice teaching.”

Most of those players were homegrown, which Meader called a source of pride.

“We’ve had a certain degree of success, it could have been more, but we’ve done it with Maine kids,” he said. “That’s the best thing about it. … This has been a place for Maine kids to go and play.”

Meader made sure there would be a good pipeline of talent, working with former Colby coach Dick Whitmore to start the Pine Tree Basketball Camp in 1974. The camp became known throughout the region, drawing some of the best talent in the northeast, including future NBA players.

“Coach Meader was the central figure,” said Cony coach T.J. Maines, who attended the camp before playing at Colby. “He was there every day. … It was well-known everywhere, and it was a super intense teaching camp. It wasn’t just ‘Let’s go play games.’ You did drill stations and you worked your tail off.”

Maines went on to coach at Thomas, where he got a chance to go up against Meader’s UMF teams from 2006-2013.

“Their teams were ridiculously disciplined,” Maines said. “They never beat themselves. You were going to have to play well to beat them.”

Meader preached intensity and intelligence on defense, but he knew how to let his players flourish in their own styles.

“He’s definitely a player’s coach,” Robinson said. “You’re not going to talk to anybody who’s ever played for him that has a negative word to say about him. … He lets you be creative as a player. He doesn’t hold you back at all, he doesn’t ever try to micro-manage.”

At the same time, Meader was detail-oriented. He looked for ways to make a player better, and he often found them.

“He notices all the little things that can really improve your game,” Robinson said. “Like my footwork on my pull-up jumper, he helped me a lot with that and substantially improved that.”

That was an example of the basketball acumen that made him a celebrated figure in the state’s basketball landscape.

“He’s a legend,” Robinson said. “Most times when anybody brings his name up, somebody’s going to say ‘The GOAT.’ That’s kind of what he’s known as.”

Maines said that’s only part of the story.

“The biggest thing is he’s truly one of the kindest, best-hearted people you’ll ever meet,” he said. “That just resonated with everybody.”


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