It only took one track meet for Sade Meeks to make her mark at Villanova.
The graduate student, who transferred to Villanova before this season, did so by breaking the school’s 20-year-old school record in the women’s weight throw in her Wildcats debut. But for Meeks, it was just another day at the office, as she proved by breaking her own record by nearly 3 meters just seven days later.
On Jan. 15, Meeks registered a 18.98-meter weight throw at the Penn 10-Team Select Meet to smash Melinda Boykin’s Villanova record of 16.7 meters, set in 2002. Meeks threw a personal record of 20.88 meters in Staten Island the following Saturday, shattering her school record from the week before.
On Feb. 5 at the Doc Hale Virginia Tech Elite Meet, Meeks added the school’s shot put record to her resume, throwing 15.21 meters. At the Rutgers Open this past weekend, she came in second in the weight throw (19.13 meters) and third in the shot put (14.53 meters).
Meeks’ rare talent was almost never discovered. When she was a sophomore in high school, she loved to act and sing. But when her school shut down its musical theater program, Meeks was left without an after-school activity and with too much free time. So she joined the track and field team at North Babylon High School on Long Island. Meeks started as a runner but moved over to field to be with her friends. From there, she saw a steady progression in her achievements and eventually realized she had a special talent.
“I went from junior year being kind of county-good, to the next year being state champion in New York,” Meeks said. “So it wasn’t in my plans, but it worked out senior year.”
Despite her undeniable talent, Meeks actually walked on to her first college team at Jacksonville University. Because she started the sport later in high school, she was a late bloomer and most schools’ scholarship money had already been used.
“I knew the potential was there,” she said. And she rose up to that potential. She set the Jacksonville weight throw record with a mark of 20.67 meters, and was recognized as the Atlantic Sun Conference’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2021 after overcoming a torn ACL she suffered in 2020.
“Wow,” Meeks thought after the record-breaking win on her Villanova debut began to sink in. “I went from tearing my ACL, to coming back and breaking a record at a different school.”
The student-athlete title is an important one for Meeks, and it’s the primary reason she ended up at Villanova for her graduate year. With the opportunity to compete during a grad year, she considered only nine schools that offered a specialized masters program in accounting. Villanova separated itself from the pack because of the winning tradition that throwing coach Peter Koumlelis has built.
“When I discovered that he was coaching here and it wasn’t just anybody, that’s really what enticed me more, so I reached out to the school,” Meeks said. “You just have to have faith in the coach and that you’re going to do well at that school, and throughout the fall semester I felt so glad that I made this decision.”
Meeks has become an integral part of the team. Koumlelis praises Meeks’ talent but believes that her coachability, personality, and humor are what make her special.
“Having her here is invaluable,” Koumlelis said. “Not only the impact she has as an athlete and the numbers she puts down, but also what she brings to the group. As a coach, it’s a really proud moment when everyone is on the same page, and how we can help the entire program as a function of how we do as a group, and it starts with her.”
It is this attitude that makes Meeks so successful. She has goals, like qualifying for indoor nationals and winning Big East Conference championships in the weight throw and shot put. And even though her original goal of being a musical theater actress did not come to fruition, Meeks believes that her short acting career made her the confident and successful athlete she is today.
“When you’re on stage, you have to be confident, right?” she said. “Because people believe you that you believe in yourself. When you’re throwing, you have to believe in yourself before you can even do it, and you just have to be confident enough.”