Yorkville native Meyer has lifelong affinity for area

 

By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

When first-year baseball coach Nathan Meyer applied for the Union Grove varsity baseball coach job last year, he could have easily just forwarded a few yearbooks instead of a resume.

Meyer, a Yorkville native and a 2007 Union Grove High School graduate, attended Union Grove district schools from kindergarten through high school. When he left for college at UW-Whitewater, he still came back in the summer to help the Legion baseball program.

Meyer’s decades-long connection to Union Grove continues today as a teacher at Yorkville Elementary and now as the first-year coach for the Union Grove varsity baseball team.

Simply put, Meyer is Union Grove, and Union Grove is Meyer.

“I’ve been fortunate because I’ve worked at the high school in the summer for the last 15 years,” Meyer said. “You can say I never really left because even when I was at Whitewater, I still worked here in the summer.”

“It’s nice to have people around that you know. Some of the teachers at Yorkville taught me when I went there, so it is fun to sometimes reminisce with them.”

There’s certainly plenty of familiarity at Union Grove High School as well.

Meyer was a three-year starter as a second baseman for the Broncos and also played varsity basketball for Dave Pettit, who is now Meyer’s boss as the school’s athletic director.

“I’ve had a lot of good coaches influence me from Union Grove,” Meyer said. “From coach Mark Stalker to Mr. Pettit, who was my basketball coach, and to Mike Arendt, who gave me my first coaching opportunity under him.”

The young coach has also assisted with Legion baseball program for 15 years and was an assistant coach under Michael Arendt for five seasons.

“As a head coach, it is so important to surround yourself with good people who you can trust, and I was fortunate to have plenty of those guys and Nate is definitely one of those people,” said Arendt, who is now the Athletic Director at Racine St. Cat’s. “When I had an opening on the staff, it was a no-brainer to add Nate because we were comfortable with each other, had become good friends through coaching and our families spending time together. I will still tease him that his mom likes me more than him.”

After Arendt accepted the position at Racine St. Cat’s, he was certain Meyer would be the ideal successor.

“I asked Nate if he would put in for the job, and when he said he would, it made my decision to leave a whole lot easier knowing that there was a good chance he would get the job and continue building on what he actually started as a player,” Arendt said. “Union Grove is a special place that way, and the culture that has been created around the program makes people proud to be a part of it.”

Before Meyer applied, however, he first needed to run it by his wife.

“I had to talk to my wife because varsity coach is obviously a bigger time commitment, and we also have a young child,” Meyer said. “But she supported me going for the job.”

Meyer, who was announced as the Grove’s varsity baseball coach last September, was eager to get the opportunity to run his own program.

“I definitely tried to keep some of the things the same as Mike had them, but at the same time, I’ve tried to put my own fingerprints on things,” Meyer said. “The best part of it is the kids have had an easy transition since they were already familiar with me from my assistant coach days.”

Meyer’s philosophy is to stress the importance of academics to his student-athletes.

“We stress that grades certainly come first,” Meyer said. “I’ve been through it and know how important academics are.”

With the academics and interpersonal relationships in place, Meyer and his coaching staff are focusing on getting the Broncos back to the top of the Southern Lakes Conference.

“Our goal is to always compete for a conference championship,” Meyer said. “We also strive to finish above .500 and just be in every game and fight for every game.”

Meyer’s philosophy was developed in Union Grove, and now he’s teaching it to the next generation of Bronco student-athletes.

How’s that for symmetry?

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