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Construction Begins on Estes-Speight Family Athletic Center

Photo: Estes-Speight Family Athletic Center rendering provided by Inland Construction

Meredith College broke ground in the fall 2023 on the Estes-Speight Family Athletic Center which will include athletic training space for softball, tennis, and golf. Chris Speight Brown, ’76, along with her siblings, gave a $1 million lead gift to name the center in memory of their mother, Mary Estes Speight, ’53, and their father, Bobby Speight.

The building will include two large indoor batting cages that will double as indoor golf driving ranges, locker rooms, a student lounge, and public restrooms. In addition to the building, lights have been installed at the tennis courts, which have also been resurfaced. A new LED wireless scoreboard has been installed at the softball complex.

Two of the tennis courts have been named: one by an anonymous donor and one by Brad and Kimberly Osborne in honor of their daughter Ellie, ’25, who is on the tennis team and a Broyhill Scholar. “We are grateful for Ellie’s experience and love for tennis, a lifelong sport. Through dedication and determination, student-athletes become role models, inspiring others to chase their dreams and believe in their potential. Sports have the extraordinary ability to bridge divides and bring communities together,” said Brad Osborne. “We are honored to support Meredith tennis and the Meredith Strong mantra for the young women who will thrive on these courts in the future.”

The players’ lounge has also been recently named by Ginger Alexander Neustadt, ’05, former Board of Trustees member. “I treasure my days at Meredith and I appreciate the opportunity to support our Avenging Angels with a room where they can relax, rejuvenate, and swap their game day stories. I want to be a part of the upward trend in women’s athletics and what better place than the college that changed my life? Go, Angels!”

Meredith’s 11 athletic teams have had continued success. Keeping facilities up to date will support Meredith’s enrollment of student-athletes.

The current construction is phase one of the project. Support is needed to start phase two, which will include other amenities for the complex. Inland Construction, headquartered in Garner, N.C., has been selected as the general contractor. Construction of phase one is expected to be completed in 2024.

Douglass Brings Valuable Experience to Athletics

Eric Douglass smiling.Eric Douglass is the new director of strategic fundraising for athletics. He will also remain as Meredith’s head tennis coach. Douglass has over 30 years of experience securing funding for high-profile sports and entertainment events, non-profits, colleges, and universities. His clients have included such notable events as The Grammy Awards, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Masters, the 1996 Summer Olympics, multiple Super Bowls, the US Open Tennis Championships, and others. He has also worked at Duke University and Tulane Law School. After college, Douglass played tennis professionally in Europe and was a hitting partner for several ATP and WTA pros at the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. He taught tennis in Los Angeles before starting a successful career in the sports and entertainment industries. In his spare time, he plays tennis competitively and recreationally and works with a few junior tournament players. He is a Principia College graduate with three grown children of whom he is immensely proud.

50th Reunion Project to Help Athletes and All Students

Meredith College has a long history of alumnae honoring their alma mater with their gifts of support. Each class raises funds for a 50th reunion class gift. During their 45th reunion year, each class selects a project that is a priority of the College. During the next five years, the class raises $250,000 to establish a class legacy for current and future generations of Meredith students.

“Meredith’s Alumnae Reunion Weekend is one of the most significant annual alumnae events hosted on campus, with classmates celebrating the results of their collaborative fundraising efforts with their 50th reunion class gift,” said Tonita Few, strategic giving officer for reunions. “The Class of 1978 will celebrate their 50th class reunion in 2028, and we are pleased that they have decided on what their funds will support.”

The Class of 1978, led by Class Gift Agent Celia Brown Mitchell, has chosen to support the transportation needs of Athletics and other student groups by purchasing two new 15-passenger vans. The new vehicles will replace the current vans that are 18 years old. Each van will be equipped with modern technology such as GPS, Wi-Fi so students can do homework while traveling, charging stations for phones and laptop computers, and comfortable seats for long-distance travel. The vans will also be custom-wrapped with Meredith College branding to serve as a mobile billboard for athletics and admissions recruitment purposes.

“Our class wanted to impact as many students as possible while meeting a great need. When the idea of bus transportation became a possibility, the committee agreed that it was a great project idea for our class,” said Mitchell. “Our class feels that every student, whether an athlete or not, deserves a first-class experience when they are on the road for a Meredith function.”

Approximately 300 individuals are involved in Athletics at Meredith, whether they are players, coaches, assistants, trainers, or other staff who assist Athletics.

“I want the current Meredith students to know that the Class of 1978 is committed to paying it forward with our financial contributions that will ensure the success of Meredith sports and other co-curricular activities on and off campus,” said Mitchell. “The 50th reunion project committee is a dedicated and loyal group of graduates who are grateful for how Meredith shaped our lives not only through our fabulous education but also through the friendships and sisterhood we are happy to be part of. Our class motto is ’78 First Rate’ and we want to guarantee that all future Meredith students have a first-rate experience as well.”

To learn more about Meredith Athletics and see construction updates visit our Campus Growth site. Interested in helping fund phase two of the project? Contact Eric Douglass, director of strategic giving for athletics, at eddouglass@meredith.edu or (919) 986-5205.

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330

allenme@meredith.edu
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