theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

May 19, 2014

Donald Mayer among first group of Coalgate Hall of Famers

Jeff Cali Sports Editor adanewssports@cableone.net
The Ada News

Coalgate —    Legendary head football coach Donald Mike Mayer will headline the first-ever group to be inducted into the Coalgate Athletic Hall of Fame.

   The inaugural Coalgate Hall of Fame Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, May 24, at the high school cafeteria.

   Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased at the following Coalgate businesses: Shamrock Bank, First Bank, The Brand N Iron Restaurant, Palace Drug and Sonny’s Grocery.

   A reception will be held from 5 to 5:30 p.m. before dinner is served.

   The keynote speaker will be 1956 Coalgate graduate Tom McDaniel.

   Others on the first Coalgate Athletic Hall of Fame list are:

   • Jack Ward, class of 1943.

   • Ernest Paul Fanning, class of 1948.

   • Elvin Sweeten, class of 1960.

   • Joe Avanzini, class of 1973.

   • The 2004 girls state champion track team, coached by Sherry McCulley.

   Mayer died at age 40 of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was the head football coach at Coalgate from 1965-1978.

   “He was very successful on the field, but even more so in the lives of young teenagers at Coalgate High School,” said Hall of Fame spokesperson Steve Hudson, a former athlete and veteran basketball coach who graduated as a Wildcat in 1970.

   Mayer, who went by the nickname “Dode,” was an outstanding football player for the Wildcats before graduating in 1959. He was a three-year starter at linebacker, even though he was undersized at 5-8.

   “The impact he made with his ferocious tackling and his hard running at halfback was what so many fans remember about his ability and contribution to the team,” Hudson said.

   Mayer played college football at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant before injuries took their toll on the hard-nosed player at the end of his playing days.

   After coaching in Montana for a year, he returned to Coalgate as an assistant coach to Jim Wills.  In 1965, he assumed head coaching responsibilities and served in that capacity until 1978.

   His 1968 squad finished 10-1-1 and posted six shutouts. The 1972 Wildcats, led by Hall of Fame inductee Avanzini, finished 10-3 and advanced to the state semifinals.

   “All of coach Mayer’s teams were known for their defense and ball control offense out of the I-formation for the majority of his tenure,” Hudson said.

   Coalgate now plays home football games on Donald Mike Mayer Field.

   Tom Mayer, Donald’s brother, said his family was thrilled with the news of the Hall of Fame induction.

   “The whole family is honored and humbled by this tremendous honor bestowed upon Donald,” he said. “He would have been so proud to accept this honor and would have been extremely humbled as well. He lived and breathed football his whole life, and the only thing he liked as much was hunting and fishing."

   Tom recalled what a top-notch athlete his brother was during his playing days as a Wildcat.

   “He was extremely athletic and was the only guy at Coalgate that I ever saw do a standing back flip and land on his feet without falling,” he said.

   As a coach, Tom said his brother wasn’t afraid of competition.

   “One aspect of what Donald did when he took over as coach was to upgrade the non-district games Coalgate would play. He said playing tougher competition would help his guys as they tried to win a district championship,” Tom said. “He used to tell me that if he could keep it close until the fourth quarter, that he felt like the conditioning of his players would give him a chance to win the game. That is exactly what happened numerous times.”