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Published: Tuesday, 6/14/2011

Mealer golf outing scores an ace

UM players help to raise funds

Brothers Brock Mealer, left, and Blake Mealer get ready for the David Mealer Memorial Golf Classic at Brandywine. Brothers Brock Mealer, left, and Blake Mealer get ready for the David Mealer Memorial Golf Classic at Brandywine.
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A man who is 6-foot-8 and almost 300 pounds looks uncomfortable as he takes practice swings with a golf club unfit for someone of that size.

When that man is considered to be the class clown of the University of Michigan football team, hilarity is bound to ensue once he takes a swing that counts.

Taylor Lewan’s first tee shot Monday at the David Mealer Memorial Golf Classic went screaming off of his undersized iron, traveling in a straight line into a wooden area located right of the tee box on hole 17 at Brandywine Country Club. A subsequent loud thud was Lewan’s ball hitting what everyone could only hope was a tree.

“Let’s get this day started!” Lewan yelled, sarcastically, in response to his regrettable shot.

Lewan, a sophomore offensive tackle, was one of 32 Wolverine football players who drove from Ann Arbor to Maumee to participate in the second annual event, which honors the late David Mealer who died in December, 2007, at the age of 50 from injuries suffered in a car crash in Wauseon. Mealer’s son, Elliott, is a junior offensive lineman at Michigan and a graduate of Wauseon.

The proceeds generated from the event are earmarked for two organizations that have assisted Elliott’s brother, Brock, in his effort to walk again after he was paralyzed from the waist down in the same accident that killed David and Elliott’s girlfriend, Hollis Richer. They are the Carlsbad, Calif.-based Project Walk and Fulton County Health Center in Wauseon.

The scramble-format brought together 27 teams of 108 golfers. Among the notable Wolverines in attendance were: Kevin Koger, Patrick Omameh, Will Hagerup, Ryan Van Bergen, J.B. Fitzgerald, Kenny Demens, Junior Hemingway, Jared Van Slyke, and Je’Ron Stokes. Offensive line coach Darrell Funk also attended.

Van Slyke is said to be the best golfer among the Wolverines, as his score for 18 holes generally falls somewhere in the 70s.

Lewan played in a group that included his girlfriend, some of Elliott’s high school friends, and Omameh, whose first shot didn’t go well either, sailing high — but not far — into the air. Koger followed that group around in a golf cart but elected to not play.

“I may be the worst golfer out here,” the Whitmer graduate said.

Taylor Lewan was one of 32 Wolverines helping at the 2nd annual event. Taylor Lewan was one of 32 Wolverines helping at the 2nd annual event.
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Elliott didn’t play either, and planned instead to drive around “managing my teammates” and chatting with others. Elliott never played golf alongside David but he did have the chance to watch his father play from up close.

“I’d go out with him and my brothers,” Elliott said. “I’d go and watch and drive around in the golf cart and maybe make a few comments here and there.”

Brock is confined to a wheel chair, so he didn’t play either. But from the sounds of it, he’s still a better golfer than most of the Wolverines. Brock said he hit balls Sunday evening from his chair, driving them “180 yards, straight as an arrow.”

Brock has continued to make progress toward walking ever since he led the Wolverines onto the field at the season opener in September with the assistance of two canes. Brock has maintained his rehabilitation situation with former UM strength coach Mike Barwis, who recently opened a gym in Plymouth, Mich.

“[The event] reminds me so much of my dad, and it reminds me so much of all the times we went out golfing with him,” Brock said. “I’m a terrible golfer, but I loved going out golfing with him.”

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.

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