Editor's Note: This 2010 Kansas State football season has been dedicated to the memory of ex-Wildcats Elijah Alexander and Dylan Meier, who passed away this past summer. Today, "Sports Extra" remembers Meier.
By Mark Janssen
"Dylan lived every moment of every day, and lived it the right way. He was such an adventuresome individual. He traveled to places that a normal person couldn't get to. He wanted the experience of exploring. " - Bill Snyder on Dylan Meier
Dennis and Valerie Meier chuckle at the license plate their four boys once gave them: "You've seen the Jayhawk on one side and the Powercat on the other and the phrase 'A house divided.' Well, the boys doctored one of those up to where it said, 'A house united.' "
Each Meier boy was four years apart in age making for some pretty active weekends over the last 10 to 15 years.
"There was a time when we'd have a boy playing on Friday night, two on Saturday somewhere, and Shad in the NFL on Sunday," said Dennis. "It was pretty hectic for a while. Some weeks every team won, but most of the time we were dealing with wins and losses, and a boy getting hurt, but another one getting healthy."
Meier paused before adding, "We loved the hell out of it."
On April 19 of this past spring, the Meier family was hit with the pure hell of the death of their second youngest son - Dylan - when he fell 100 feet in a hiking accident at the Upper Buffalo Wilderness area in Arkansas' Ozark National Forest. Meier was just one month into his 26th year of adventuresome life.
As Pittsburg High School athletic director Doug Hitchcock said, "Dylan would try anything once, and most things twice."
"I've done a lot of reflecting in the past few months and have learned so much from Dylan," said 32-year-old Shad, who played five years in the NFL. "He had such a positive impact on people; people gravitated to him. Dylan brightened and affected change ... positive change ... in so many lives, including mine."
"With Dylan, every person was important. There weren't classes of people," Shad continued. "He would go out of his way to say 'Hi' to the small person."
When Dylan was in transition from playing with the Dresden Monarchs in Germany in 2007-08, and the Milano Rhinos in the Italian Football League in 2009, he returned to his southeast Kansas home of Pittsburg and did substitute teaching until his next life adventure, which was going to be teaching English in South Korea.
He was to leave on April 24. The family hike was five days prior to his planned departure.
Of his brother, Shad said, "Dylan was a sponge for experience and a sponge for knowledge. If he could soak up a new culture, or a new environment, he would. He would never set boundaries. He had such an open mind. The world was his. He had no fear of getting out of his comfort zone. Life was his comfort zone."
Dennis said of his son, "Dylan was a kid who had 500 plans. If he had 10 options going, he knew one of them would be a good one. But just one option would limit him too much. That was just his personality."
At K-State, Meier was known for his long blonde hair, dancing blue eyes, and his passion for his Wildcat football life.
Meier was a two-time all-state quarterback for the Purple Dragons of Pittsburg High, where he became the first 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-passer in the SEK Conference history.
Following in the cleat prints of his older brother, Dylan arrived at K-State in 2002 and would earn the team's "Overachiever Award" during his redshirt season. He then served as the Wildcats' holder on kicks in 2003 before earning the starting quarterback role in 2004 when he passed for 1,436 yards and nine touchdowns.
Injuries sidelined him in 2005, but he returned to start the first five games of the 2006 season before giving way to Josh Freeman, an eventual first-round draft choice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"He was a leader in our program and was mature well beyond his years," said KSU coach Bill Snyder, who coached Meier as a freshman and sophomore. "He possessed all the intrinsic values that make one successful and he guided others in that direction."
Dylan played the game of football, and the task of life, with the motto, "Play with pride; play with poise; play with passion."
The life direction that Dylan was heading was back into football. He wanted to coach so he could give back to the young people of the next generation.
"Dylan would live in the moment, but also had long-term goals," said Shad. "One of the things he told me in February is that he would like to come back from Korea and coach ... be a teacher and be a head coach of a high school football team.
"He had such an impact on kids in the two or three months when he came back home and was a substitute (teacher)," Shad said. "I couldn't believe the number of young kids at his funeral that I had never seen. He was only a substitute, but in that short time touched their lives to the point that they would attend his funeral. I'm just blown away by the number of lives he touched."
Speaking for his entire family, Dennis said, "Dylan left us doing what he loved to do. He loved adventure and loved exploring."
Pausing, Dylan's father added, "We're not mad, and we're not angry. We just wish we would have had him longer."