On this week's edition of Stormin' the Nest with AD Hall, men's soccer and track and field athlete Rodrigo Meade, a sophomore from Fort Smith, Arkansas, talks about fighting through an injury to post an outstanding time in his new discipline, the 800 meters, and about his love of soccer growing up.
Hall: Who is your favorite professor here at Oglethorpe University?
Meade: My favorite class would have to be intro to guitar. Oglethorpe University provides me the opportunity to earn credits while having a private instructor for guitar. I took it last semester and plan on taking it the next three years. It’s nice because I have a private teacher who has been teaching for 45 years, and he comes directly to me, his name is Dr. Russell from Maple Street Guitar on Peachtree. This was my first semester. I have learned how to play "Feliz Navidad" for my parents, and played for them over the holidays, but mostly I’ve just learned chords and will learn more over the years.
Hall: What does the phrase "Give 'Em the Bird" mean to you?
Meade: It means to me to leave your mark, to let people know that I’m a Stormy Petrel. I’m Oglethorpe and I’m here to compete! Oglethorpe University has been looked down upon for track and field, until we got our great coach, Coach Shellhouse, who is really improving us here. So a lot of time when I step on the line, I’m racing against people who have been running their entire lives, a lot of them are D1 and D2 opponents, and they’ve been racing this event their whole lives, and since I’ve only been running for a year, I get put at the end of the track in the last lane since I’m the worst seed. People look at you like, "Oh, that’s Oglethorpe..." so when I run and finish ahead of them, you leave your mark, people are then looking at me, like, "Oh, that’s Oglethorpe!" and I’m gonna be here all year…that’s what it means to "Give ‘Em the Bird!”
Hall: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through sport that is applicable to life?
Meade: With both track and field and soccer, that it will only take hard work, and everything you have in practice to improve yourself. In track, you run until you cannot walk, and you have to keep going. To know that if I want to be the best, I have to give it all I have. Sports have influenced me to be disciplined, and a hard worker, both in sports and in school. Any goal I want to achieve is only going to take hard work.
Hall: What will you be doing after you graduate from Oglethorpe University?
Meade: Right now I am very much undecided because I don’t know if I want to go into the medical field. If I do, I want to be a doctor to help people and to improve people’s lives, but I am undecided right now.
Hall: What has been your most memorable sports moment?
Meade: In track and field, it would definitely be my 800-meter run at the Southern Invitational in Birmingham, Alabama, last year. I was injured (hip) two weeks before this meet, so I didn’t run at all. I was only biking at the time. When we got there, I wasn’t feeling it. My hip and groin were hurting really bad, and when we got there, Coach said I was running the 800. I had never run that event, but he said it’s only two laps, you just have to push through it. So my teammates told me I would get a 2:10 or 2:15, and I was texting my best friend (he’s the reason I run track) and he said I probably wouldn’t run well. So of course, I still wasn’t feeling it…then the race started. I was fine, maybe in third place, and I notice at the end of the first lap everyone is tired, and I hear my coach yell, “GOOO!” I take off and take the lead, but another guy tries challenging me at 100 meters left, and I hear coach yell, “You gonna let that happen?” Another guy challenges me and actually pulls ahead of me with 50 meters left, but at the end, I came back and won the heat. I ran it in 1:59.94. It shut everyone up, they couldn’t believe I finished that in under two minutes. I was seconds off the school record at the time for the 800. I got all-conference later that season for the 800.
Hall: How did you first get involved in sports?
Meade: Soccer, I’ve been playing since I can remember with my dad at 4 years old. I got in trouble for playing too much soccer. My dad had to take soccer balls away from me so I would do my homework. Being from Mexico, soccer is a way of life. It’s what we do. For track and field, in my hometown in Arkansas, I have a best friend who runs. I would run with him in the summer to get in shape for soccer. So last year, soccer season finished earlier than expected. My best friend told me I should run track, so that we could see each other and compete against each other. So I went to Coach Shellhouse, and he said let’s see what you can do. My whole motivation was to beat my friend, who attends Sewanee. We are 1-1 against each other…he’s beaten me and me him. So this year will be the year!
Hall: What is your favorite place to hang out on campus?
Meade: My favorite place would definitely be the Turner Lynch Campus Center cafeteria. The food is right there, all of your friends are there, and if not, then they’ll end up there. For dinner, I could hang out there for a few hours. I mean, the food is there, and as an athlete, that’s a good thing. So on a day when I train in the morning, eat in there, and then go play soccer, this is a necessity…and before you know it, your friends are suddenly all there. This is a good place to procrastinate, but I also know when I have to cut it off and go study.
Hall: What is your major, I didn’t ask you that yet?
Meade: I am a biology major, most likely pre-med, and a Spanish minor.
Be to sure to continue checking back each week for a new edition of Stormin' the Nest with AD Hall. For a full list of previous installments in the series, click here.