Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Mark Myers

By: Devin Hanners, '09
October 28, 2013

The game of basketball carries with it a long and rich history. A genuine appreciation and love for its tradition runs deep through the bluegrass state – especially here, in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. For basketball enthusiasts, those few players who manage to completely embody the spirit of the game, referred to as “the best,” come up in casual conversation regarding the sport. And whenever these conversations involve local players, there is a very good chance you will hear the name of this month's Alumni Spotlight – Dr. Mark Myers.

Today, Myers can be found in his private optometry practice, ensuring the vision of Pike County's residents remains clear and true. Known for disarming the fears of his patients through conversation and a pleasant demeanor, it is likely patients who have been in his chair were not aware they were examined by one of the finest basketball players the City of Pikeville has ever produced. Quite a claim, but true nonetheless. Inducted into the Pikeville College Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994 for his outstanding achievements, Myers is notable for records such as highest season free throw percentage average, with 88 percent, and most assists in a season with 201.

Myers’ pedigree is quite extensive. During my research to see where his roots began, I visited David Thomas of Pikeville High School, who serves as assistant athletic director and assistant principal. Coincidentally, Thomas is currently working on a project aimed at highlighting the high school's prominent athletic history. When I mentioned Myers to him, Thomas showed me a plaque with Myers' portrait that hangs alongside similar ones summarizing the accomplishments of various outstanding athletes in the school's history. I studied it while he retrieved some other interesting newspaper clippings and articles.

Toting a veritable menagerie to one of the school's lunchroom tables, we examined it while discussing Myers’ high school career. Graduating fifth in Pikeville High School’s Class of 1974, Myers is noted as being the all-time leading scorer with 2,406 points, all-time career leader in free throw percentage with an average exceeding 80 percent, and all-time leader in assists and field goals scored.

Despite being considered by scouts from numerous collegiate institutions, Myers chose to remain local. Since his coach Wayne Martin had left PHS after Myers' junior year to lead the men's basketball team for then Pikeville College, Myers felt Pikeville College was a natural shift for him, knowing the coach and several of the team’s players.

Under Coach Martin's expertise, Myers and teammates, such as former greats Danny Moses and Jimmy Kent Kerr, formed a juggernaut team. Going undefeated through conference play in the 1974-75 season, they went so far as to contend for the NAIA national championship in Kansas City, Mo.

When asked about his fondest memories of playing college basketball, Myers regaled me with tales of visiting Poland during one summer break to compete with the country's best student-athletes and storming rival Georgetown College on their own court after a split-second buzzer beater to clinch a hard fought victory.

During college, Myers briefly considered orthopedics as a career before ultimately deciding to continue the tradition of family optometry, forged by his father and older brother. After graduating from Pikeville College in 1977, Myers attended the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn. Upon graduation in 1981, he could have chosen to practice anywhere in the nation, but he elected to return to his roots in the mountains where he worked alongside his father, and, upon his retirement, took over his father’s practice. A pillar of the Pikeville community since its inception in the 1950s, Myers Optometry remains in operation today at its original location at 109 Caroline Avenue.

What makes of Myers Optometry even more special is knowing the mountains almost missed out on the family altogether. Myers’ father, born in Nebraska, attended optometry school in Oregon before being convinced by some of his peers to start his practice in Paintsville, Ky., which he later moved to Pikeville. Myers recalls that it was very enjoyable to take part in his father's work while growing up, talking with the patients during their visits and learning the precision science of optometry from his father.

We are certainly lucky to have such an experienced optometrist here in Eastern Kentucky. A dedicated professional, Myers has a strong sense of civic duty. A product of the City of Pikeville’s education system, Myers has a keen interest in and awareness of the district’s development of students; he began his service to the Pikeville Independent Board of Education in 1997 and currently serves as chairman. In addition to his practice and work in the local school system, Myers is devoted to his three children. His son Adam lives in Plano, Tex., with his wife and two children. His daughter Whitney and her husband reside in Charlottesville, Va., and his son Griffin calls Louisville, Ky., home. The next time you go in for a check-up, you might ask him how any are faring. Or, you might ask him how hard it was to find ice in Poland.
 

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