Dave Van Metre was a tremendous athlete, a lifelong learner, a gifted educator, a lover of both people and animals alike, and above all, a tremendous husband and father.
Van Metre grew up in the Midwest and was immersed in sports from a young age. He went on to attend Cornell University, where he was a two-time Academic All-American and a second-team All-Ivy defensive lineman his senior season in 1985. Van Metre was a diligent student and earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell in 1986 before earning his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree from Cornell in 1989. His education continued at UC Davis, Washington State University, Kansas State University, and finally, Colorado State University.
He became a livestock veterinarian and faculty member at the CSU James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital for 20 years. He was beloved by his students at CSU and was given the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teaching Award for a faculty member providing outstanding veterinary education in three separate years.
“They know more than they think they know. That’s the most rewarding thing for me,” Van Metre said about his students.
Van Metre loved his work, but his greatest love was for his family. He enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his wife, Dr. Robin Van Metre, and his two sons, Aaron and Joe. He delighted in watching Aaron and Joe succeed in their various activities, athletic and otherwise.
Van Metre was a true team player - in sports and in life. He left it all on the field and devoted that same energy to everything else in his life. He did his best to uplift and elevate everyone he met. Tragically and unexpectedly, Van Metre succumbed to anxiety and depression and took his life on April 1, 2019. He was 55 years old. His death was a complete shock to all who knew him. While a comprehensive neuropathological examination could not be performed, the ME reported they observed some changes consistent with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
While those closest to Van Metre saw him as seemingly thriving, he was fighting a silent battle no one knew about. His tragic loss is a testament to how suicide is a complex public health issue and involves many different factors. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition.
Suicide is preventable. You are never alone, help is available and healing is possible. If you are struggling to cope and would like some emotional support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to connect with a trained counselor. It’s free, confidential, and available to everyone in the United States. You do not have to be suicidal to call. You can also connect with the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘HOME’ to 741-741.
If you are concerned that someone in your life may be suicidal, the five #BeThe1To steps are simple actions anyone can take to help someone in crisis.
Van Metre loved the game of football. He played with his entire heart, soul, and body. He often referred to his Cornell Football days, and his comrades as the best of his life. The Van Metre family is grateful for CLF’s efforts to create Smarter Sports and Safer kids so that so many kids can still reap the valuable benefits from their participation in sports.
CLF's Education & Advocacy programs seek to improve sports, not eliminate them. Research from the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank has moved the CTE conversation beyond boxing and the NFL, and directly inspired safety reforms for children. After researchers diagnosed the first NHL player with CTE in 2009, USA Hockey banned checking up to age 13. Similarly, after researchers diagnosed the first American soccer player with CTE in 2014, US Soccer banned heading until age 11. CLF's Flag Football Under 14 campaign seeks to make the football ecosystem safer by encouraging parents to delay their child's enrollment in youth tackle football until their brain and body is mature enough to play.
Several former Cornell alumni and friends are representing Leo Reherman, Tom McHale, and Dave Van Metre by participating in the 2021 Virtual Cleveland Marathon. Please consider a donation to Team Cornell as they support CLF’s efforts to create a world without CTE here.