Born: September 9, 1964 (Topeka, KS)
Graduated: Topeka Hayden H.S., 1983 / Washburn University, 1987
Between playing basketball as a kid with his six siblings, becoming a two-time state champion in high school and earning top accolades as an athlete at Washburn University, Tom Meier, the first high school player in Kansas to be named “Mr. Kansas Basketball,” says that that he couldn’t have done it by himself.
The oldest of seven, Meier learned the value of teamwork and leadership at home. So naturally, when he took the court to play basketball, he became a leader to those around him.
“I really enjoyed it,” Meier said. “I was always tall and it always worked for me. Basketball just came naturally.”
Meier credited a lot of his success to the people he looked up to like former pro Larry Bird, his high school coach Ben Meseke at Topeka Hayden, and his collegiate coach, and fellow 2019 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Bob Chipman at Washburn.
His coaches were the people that really set him up for success Meier said. While at Hayden, Meier led the Wildcats to back-to-back state titles finishing with a perfect season his senior year and earning the title of “Mr. Kansas Basketball.” At Washburn, the success continued.
While Meier could have played at other schools, he chose Washburn because it would allow him to stay close to home and play for Chipman, a coach that he admired. Meier also had the opportunity to earn playing time at the start of his four-year career for the Ichabods. Having the advantage of getting playing time early in his career allowed Meier to work towards all of the accolades that followed.
Meier was a two-time all All-American selection, including a NAIA First Team All-America selection in 1987. He led the Ichabods to an NAIA National Championship in 1987, in the school’s greatest season. He also was one of only two Washburn players to score more than two thousand points and record more than one thousand rebounds for their career. He was inducted into the Washburn Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.
For Meier his career still feels surreal. “Not too many guys can say they they went out with a win in highschool and in college,” Meier said.
He still feels like winning the NAIA National Championship in 1987 is a blur but he is happy that he was a part of the squad that put Washburn on the map and that he was able to be a part of the first team to win a national championship in the program’s history.
After basketball, Meier settled down in Topeka, the place that he has called home his entire life, to raise his three children, who all attended Topeka Hayden before heading off to Kansas State University, The University of Kansas and Fort Hays State University.
For Meier, the honor of being inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame today is humbling because it was never just about him. To him, “It’s my coaches and teammates. You can’t do it by yourself. The memories are unbelievable and I just can’t believe that I was selected to be a part of this group. It’s an incredible honor.”
By: Molly Hackett