Spring ball is upon us! Something every Buckeye looks forward to once the excitement of March Madness is over. But this year there is another level of anticipation to the game that has the whole country a-buzz … Urban Meyer is calling the shots. His professional resume speaks for itself, but for a community that thrives on pride and tradition, there is one intangible quality that means much more to Buckeye Nation … a quality that our most beloved coaches in history (Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, Jim Tressel, etc.) all share with our new coach … they all bleed Scarlet and Gray!
For Coach Meyer, the source and continual fuel of that pride stems from his family. His wife and children were with him during every step of his career; for every victory; and through all the scrutiny. They weathered the highs and the lows and became closer and stronger because of it. Coach Meyer’s family values are vitally important to him. So when the decision was made to join our Buckeye family as the head football coach, the decision came from the entire Meyer family. Buckeye Nation should, and most certainly does, feel quite honored to have the entire Meyer family in our family!!
While we know about Urban Meyer the coach, Buckeye House Call thought it would be fun to get to know the Meyer sisters - and in February conducted a Q&A with his older daughter, Nicki. This month, I was given the honor of introducing Buckeye Nation to his second daughter, Gigi! And after talking to Gigi, not only am I fired up for Buckeye football, but I am deeply impressed with her character and her convictions. Two respectful, mature, proud, strong, accomplished, and independent daughters with very grounded perspectives on life. Definitely attributes to their parents and great additions to our family, as well. I think I speak for all of Buckeye Nation when I say, “Welcome to THE Ohio State!!”
BHC: I hear growing up you were a bit of a tomboy, playing basketball in boys' leagues. Did you ever want to play football? If you did, what position would you have played? What other sports did you play?
Gigi: I was a huge tomboy growing up. I was almost a son to my dad, haha, but I played everything! Soccer, baseball, basketball, flag football and volleyball. It was non-stop sports. Sometimes we even played street hockey. And, yes, I did want to play football and I did once. At my dad’s football camp in Utah, I actually got in pads and played QB. My first throw was a touchdown pass! I loved tackle, but as I grew up, I realized I can’t carry on with all these sports and I need to pick one, and volleyball was it.
BHC: Nicki mentioned how close you guys are. Were you guys always close when you were growing up? Did you guys ever compete against each other?
Gigi: Nicki and I are very close now. Growing up, we honestly NEVER got along, and she could totally agree with it. I think it was when I got to high school that we actually matured a little bit and realized how important family was. From then on, we hung out a lot, talked a lot, and never really argued. If we did argue, it would be over the next minute. We only competed against each other during club practice as a scrimmage, but we actually did play together for a year in high school and I LOVED it! Not only was she an amazing player, but she was an amazing captain and I was so fortunate to follow in her footsteps.
BHC: I am sure that boys are intimidated by your father, but is your dad super protective when you and your sister bring guys home? Does your dad get out the pet gator & start petting him in front of the guys?
Gigi: Yes, boys are VERY intimidated by my father! They have never seen the soft side of him like family members do. They only see him on the football field bossing around the players. I’ll tell you a funny story. I had a boyfriend in high school, and he came over one day. My dad thought it would be funny to be introduced to him while holding a bat in his hand, not to mention Nate was by his side holding a smaller bat. My boyfriend was very intimidated and refused to come back to the house. It was hilarious!
BHC: Your sister mentioned that one of your greatest passions is wakeboarding. I did a Google search and saw the video you and your father made with Team Nautique riders Danny Harf and Emily Copeland Durham. And as a native Midwesterner ... Impressive! In the video, they mentioned that you had finished fourth in a competition back in 2010. In how many competitions have you participated? When and how did you get started in the sport? Your sister also mentioned that one of your career aspirations is to be a pro-wakeboarder. What are your personal goals in the sport?
Gigi: The 2010 Wake Games was the only competition I’ve competed in because volleyball takes up a lot of time. But me and my friend signed up thinking it was going to be a little competition with semi-decent wakeboarders... Boy were we wrong! There was a girl from Japan who competed. Another one was from California. They were amazing! But, yes, I got 4th, which was very lucky I must admit. But it was a great experience! My friend Amber got me into the sport when I was about 13. From then on, we would go to each others' lake houses and ride as much as we could. I do hope to be a pro wakeboarder, but it’ll take a lot of work. Volleyball is very time-consuming, and I’m not really allowed to ride during season... So when I’m finished with volleyball, I’ll be riding a lot and hopefully be sponsored one day.
BHC: As you are finishing up your freshman year at Florida Gulf Coast, besides volleyball, what have you really enjoyed at college? What are some of your favorite things about Florida Gulf Coast?
Gigi: I had a great first year at FGCU! I love my team to death. They have definitely become my second family. The coaches are great as well. We’re very fortunate to have such a great coaching staff. Some teams who have unfavorable coaches tend to hate their experience. So I’d have to say my team and my coaching staff is a favorite thing about FGCU. Another would have to be the beautiful campus! It’s like a resort. The lake is about 50 yards from my dorm room. Everything is so chill here at Florida Gulf Coast and I just love almost everything about it! =)
BHC: I played volleyball back in the day and absolutely LOVE it! I, too, was a setter ... although, I always felt I would be a better coach :) How do you feel the volleyball season went? In what areas do you want to improve your game for next season?
Gigi: This past fall we did pretty well. We made the tournament and got 3rd! Lipscomb, who actually made the NCAA tournament, knocked us out and unfortunately ended our season. We had a completely new team. We had 4 freshman starting, and 2 transfers playing. Our libero and one of our outsides were the only ones returning to the court. So, in my opinion, we will have a lot more experience together, and this coming Fall is going to be a lot better! We are looking to win the conference and make it to the NCAA tournament. That’s my goal . =)
BHC: Besides the Eagles, for what teams are you a fan? Aside from your dad and your volleyball coach, what other coaches, past and present, do you admire? How about players ... who are your favorite athletes? I'm not sure how well you got to know your father's players, but did you have a favorite?
Gigi: For volleyball, I’m definitely a big fan of Florida and Penn State. Both teams are very talented, and I look up to them greatly. I have a few coaches that I admire. Coach Holtz is a big one! I actually had the privilege to meet Coach. He was very nice! One of my dad’s past assistant coaches, Charlie Strong, is another coach that I deeply admire. Not only was he part of the family, but I loved the way he treated everyone. He was also very knowledgeable when it came to football. I’m pretty sure that Charlie was one of my dad’s favorites as well. There have been a number of players that I became close with. Marty Johnson (Utah), Brandon Siler, Timmy Tebow and David Nelson are just a few of the players that I have grown very close to. Wherever my dad coaches, I tend to form friendships with a lot of the players because the whole program becomes a family!
BHC: Growing up with your father being a celebrity - I am sure, at times, it was tough. What effect(s) did it have on you growing up?
Gigi: It is tough having a father who is a celebrity, but it’s a big part of my life. I’ve grown to get used to it. An issue that I had growing up was figuring out who my true friends were. It’s hard to tell when someone likes you for you, or if they just like the fact that your related to someone famous. But eventually I found out.. and when I did find out, I just stopped associating myself with them. But the people I know who admire me for me, and don’t refer to me as “Urban Meyer’s Daughter,” then I keep them close. =) Another issue was dealing with people after a loss... It gets easier and easier each day to just ignore what people have to say. But growing up, I was worried about what people had to say. Eventually I just realized some people have no idea what their talking about so they don’t deserve the time of day. At school, I would get multiple rude comments referring to my dad. In the end, my true friends would back me up, so I didn’t really worry about it too much. A comeback that Nicki and I use sometimes is.. “Oh yeah and what does your dad do?”.... and they shut up... works every time! But most of the time, we just take it, and it makes the haters feel even more stupid.
BHC: As a huge Daddy's Girl myself, I am very protective of my father and could not imagine how tough it may have been at times to hear your father criticized in the media. How hard is it to see the media criticize your dad? Did the scrutiny ever effect him?
Gigi: It was very hard to see the media criticize my dad. Anyone could say that if someone said something negative about your father, then it’d hurt you as well. But the good thing is that my dad actually realized that at the end of the day, it’s about family. And we don’t criticize him. So he uses us to get away from all that. Eventually he stopped reading the newspaper, which is a good thing... The scrutiny was a huge downfall for him.. He hated when the media said negative things. He said it’s gotten easier to just ignore it though, which is good. No offense to the media, but they’re not always right. And some of the things they say are hurtful... But they don’t care as long as they get paid. haha... so that’s why we try to just ignore it and use each other to escape from negative comments from the media.
BHC: What are your favorite qualities about your father? What are your favorite qualities of your father as a coach?
Gigi: I love my dad to death. He is a GREAT father. He’s smart, funny, sweet, and sensitive. Most people have never seen the soft side of him, but believe me, he has one! When he is at home, football doesn’t exist. And that’s the way to do it. When you’re at home, you need to focus on family and only family. And that’s what I LOVE about my dad. I thank God every day for blessing me with a father that doesn’t throw his family away for his job. Unfortunately, a good amount of coaches tend to put football first, but I’m VERY fortunate to have a father that doesn’t do that. Now as a coach, he’s VERY motivated, intelligent, hard, and understanding. He gives the best advice when it comes to my sport. I LOVE talking to him about volleyball, because he actually understands the sport and knows what to tell me. Again, I’m VERY fortunate to have a father who can be a father, and a teacher at the same time.
BHC: Okay, food-wise ... what is your father's biggest guilty pleasure that drives your mom crazy?
Gigi: I honestly don’t know! Haha I know he loves cookies...but on the plus side, he eats VERY healthy.
BHC: It has been well-established that your sister wrote up a contract on pink paper that your father signed & has framed in his office. Did you help write parts of it? What was the most important part of the contract for you? In your opinion, how has your father done so far in meeting your requirements?
Gigi: Nicki did write up the contract, which was a BRILLIANT idea, and I looked over it and made sure she included all the important things such as putting family first, eating at least 3 large meals a day, answering our phone calls ALL THE TIME, and making an effort to continue to watch us play. The most important part to me is to keep us first because when he keeps us first, then we’re all close as a family. If he pays most attention to us, then everything else seems to fall into place. Everyone is happy! His health is also a very important part as well. He needs to stay healthy. He is in great shape again, thank goodness, and because he is in great shape, he’s in a better mood! In my opinion, he has been meeting the requirements. We talk every day on the phone, and he is actually coming down to Fort Myers for his spring break and we’re going to spend it as a family! I can’t even put it into words how excited I am. It just makes me so happy that he would come all the way down here to spend it together as a family. =)
BHC: Not growing up in Ohio like your parents, I know you don't have any personal ties to The Ohio State University, but how do you feel about being a part of the Buckeye family now? How has the reception been so far? What were your preconceived notions of Buckeye Nation prior to your introduction at halftime of the basketball game?
Gigi: I’m actually very excited to be a Buckeye now! In my opinion, it’s the top of the game. It is a GREAT school, from what I know, which isn’t that much, haha, but I’ve always had respect for Ohio State. I’m just very excited to win! The introduction was very welcoming! I didn’t know we were going to be introduced as individuals, but the applause we received was very welcoming. From that moment, I approved of Ohio State and grew to be even more excited for my dad =)
BHC: I know Nicki said that she was coming to Columbus for "The Game" against That School Up North. Are you planning on attending any games next fall? If so, make sure you get to see Script Ohio! It's a very sacred tradition at The Ohio State!!
Gigi: Yes, actually I think I can make it to “The Game”!!!!!! I just checked my schedule and asked my coach, and he said I can definitely go! I’m pumped now! I’m hoping to attend more than just that game, because I hear the games are awesome. I can’t wait to experience a game inside a stadium that holds more than 106,000 seats.
BHC: What are your expectations for your father at The Ohio State?
Gigi: I expect my father to just love what he is doing. I don’t want him to go through a funk again. I expect him to stay healthy, keep his priorities straight, and to succeed. He is a great coach/dad, and he’s going to do whatever he can to enjoy these next few years. =)
BHC: If there was one thing you wanted Buckeye Nation to know about your father and your family, what would it be?
Gigi: I would want them to know that we are very excited to become apart of the family. I want them to know that my dad will do his best in keeping them entertained, but at the end of the day it’s about family. He is a GREAT coach, and most people know that. Just let him do his job, and it’ll be a good next couple of years =)
BHC: All right, I am going to play the same word association game with you that Grant did with your sister. You are free to express yourself however you would like.
Shelley Meyer | One of my best friends. The brick of the family. She is the strongest person I know. She does EVERYTHING for the family. Growing up, I didn’t show her as much respect as I should have (every teenager goes through that). But now I realize how important she is to me. She is my idol, and I love her more than anything.
Nicki Meyer | One of my best friends who I rarely argue with. I would probably take a bullet for this girl. (That’s deep, but true) She is VERY important to me. She helps me with obstacles I go through, because she either knows someone who went through it, or she has been through it herself. I look up to her so much. I can talk to her about anything.
Nate Meyer | I love my brother. He is a cool little kid. Growing up, I would wrestle with him, and of course I would win every time! Now that he’s gotten bigger, I don’t mess with him. =) He is the brilliant one in the family that has all the brains! I’ll be honest, he is a 13-year-old version of my dad.
Urban Meyer | Another one of my best friends. We just recently became very close. He knows answers to almost all of my questions. He is the first person I think of when I’m confused about something. He spoils me to death, but hearing him say that he is proud of me everyday is all I need to hear. I wouldn’t ask for any other person to be my father.
Jim Tressel | Good coach.
Brady Hoke | I don’t really know much about this person haha.
Editor's Note: We want to thank Gigi Meyer for her time and efforts, as well as our own Carrie Janello for putting this together. We're always excited to have the opportunity to work with anyone within the Ohio State family - and especially happy to be given the chance to work with those within the 'First Family' of the Ohio State football program. We also want to let Gigi know not to worry about her lack of knowledge about Brady Hoke - not many people outside of Ann Arbor have a clue who he is! You can't really say the same about her father. Welcome to the fam, Gigi.