Juggling Act: Finding balance between a special-needs daughter and a soccer team

By Marisa Strawn | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Juggling a demanding profession with a strong family life is challenging for anyone, but as I’ve found out, a day in the life of Teddy Meyer may be more hectic than many can even imagine.

Teddy Meyer is in his eighth season as the head women’s soccer coach at Flagler College and up until the summer of last year, his seemingly chaotic life was relatively normal for any collegiate coach: daily practices, recruiting duties, scouting reports, then putting all coaching aside to go home to a wife and son.

On February 28, 2011, Teddy and his wife Heather were changed forever.

They happily welcomed the birth of their second child, daughter Palin Rose Meyer.

Since learning of Heather’s pregnancy, both Teddy and Heather knew that there were going to be challenges.

Palin was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, abbreviated as PWS, which is a rare genetic disorder in which some genes on chromosome 15 are deleted or unexpressed.

“Bringing Palin home from the hospital for the first time, knowing that there weren’t going to be any nurses or doctors around, was easily the scariest moment in my life. Luckily my family and my team are an amazing support system and the less dependent Palin got on her feeding tube, the more apt Heather and I felt to let my team be around her,” says Teddy Meyer.

As a senior captain of the team, I have had the opportunity to experience firsthand how Coach Meyer balances the stress of life at home, while still continuing to excel as a supportive soccer coach. He is devoted to us and to his family. He has decided to take an entry-level sign language class to help daughter Palin learn, and also finds time to have individual meetings with us, to discuss soccer logistics.

Being able to handle collegiate-level soccer coaching and a family life that needs special attention seems virtually impossible, but Coach Meyer does it with ease.

“Coach Meyer never let his emotions over Palin’s challenges consume him. Rather, he used it to become a better dad, a better soccer coach, and a better person,” says Loren Cate, captain of the women’s soccer team.

Teddy Meyer seems to have a lot on his plate, but each and every girl on his team wouldn’t trade him for the world.

His ability to balance the life of being a dad with a 3-year-old son and a daughter with special needs with the challenges of collegiate soccer coaching is amazing.

His tenacity on and off the soccer field not only expresses the type of coach he is, but also the type of man he is: an amazing one.
We are currently on an undefeated run of 6-0-1, the best start that Flagler College Women’s soccer has ever seen, and also has Palin living a seemingly normal life.

Coach Meyer’s ability to overcome any obstacle in his life has really challenged me to do the same. Having had three ankle surgeries, my doctors told me to stop playing, but with the support of Coach Meyer, I defeated the odds and am continuing to follow through with my senior season. His tenacity for success in general has taught me to always push the limits, regardless if it’s on or off the soccer field.

Not only has Coach Meyer inspired me to be a soccer coach, but he has also showed me what parenting is all about.

Coach Meyer may think that he only has one daughter, but really he has 25 of them.

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