Paul Merrifield was born and raised in Greenville, Illinois. He played sports throughout grade school, and his favorites were basketball, football, and baseball. Besides managing school and sports, Merrifield worked at his father’s garage shop. Not only did he love sports, but he also had a passion for cars.
Once Merrifield reached high school in Greenville, he only focused on one sport: basketball. Merrifield started as a sophomore on the varsity basketball squad. After high school, he went on to play at a junior college in Burlington, Iowa, and he played there for two years. During his first year there, he took them to the NJCAA National Tournament, but they fell short. After Merrifield graduated from his junior college, he went on to play at Missouri Southern, and in his senior season, the team was ranked 12th in the nation. After college, Merrifield went on to play a few seasons of basketball overseas in Portugal, Spain, and Israel.
After his last season, Merrifield came home and met Marcus Haynes, who was one of the original members of the Harlem Globetrotters. The Harlem Globetrotters are an American exhibition basketball team. They combine athleticism, theater, and comedy in their style of play. The Globetrotters have their own mix to the game of basketball, and they try to wow the crowd with their amazing tricks. Haynes and Merrifield teamed up and played together for eight years.
While he was figuring out what to do after his playing career, Merrifield started his own car collection. His garage is filled with several antique cars that are worth a fortune. While talking about his collection, Merrifield said, “I have a Hummer that looks like a Military truck, M6 BMW, Shelby Mustang, Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, and much more.” As a child, whenever Merrifield worked on a nice car at his family’s garage, he told his father that he would have a collection of his own one day. Merrifield’s father said, “Son, you can have anything you want in life long as you strive and dedicate yourself to it.” As the years passed, Merrifield worked hard in every aspect of his life, which resulted in the addition of multiple cars to his collection.
As his basketball career came to an end, he applied to become a state police officer. It took about six years for him to be hired because the state of Illinois went through a hiring freeze. However, after the freeze, Merrifield worked 24 years as a state trooper in Illinois. He retired at the age of 60, and he is now the assistant coach for the Greenville University Men’s Basketball Team.
Merrifield went on to talk about how he loves coaching, particularly at Greenville. Merrifield said, “My favorite part of the day, besides working on cars, is coming to Greenville to watch the team play and have a good time”. He loves working with new kids and different personalities every day, and his goal is to try to steer each kid down the right path to success. Because he was on quite a few teams throughout his athletic career, he has fond memories of bonding with his teammates, and he wants his players to have the same positive experiences. Merrifield is a firm believer that once the ball stops bouncing, they’ll only have the memories to look back on.
Media by Madelyn Stephen.