Today, BelmontBruins.com starts a new feature as we check in with some former Belmont student-athletes to find out what they’re doing now and have them reflect on their time as a Bruin.
Our first visit is with Gretchen Sutch Meador and her husband Ben Meador. Gretchen, a 2012 Belmont graduate, played four seasons with the women’s soccer team. During her career, she started in 67 matches and was a three-time All-Conference performer. Meador was a two year starter on the mound for the baseball team and was an important part of the team’s run to the 2007 A-Sun Championship game.
What years did you play at Belmont?
Gretchen: I played from 2008 to 2011. For the first three years Lisa Howe was my head coach, then my senior year, Heather Henson was my head coach. My assistant coaches were Justin Ruetz, Derek Greene, Kyle Roelke, and Travis Fravel.
Ben: I played at Belmont from 2004 to 2007 and was coached by Dave Jarvis, Matt Barnett, Jason Stein, and Scott Hall.
Why did you choose to come to Belmont?
Gretchen: I chose Belmont because it was a good fit for me. I loved the aspect of a smaller school but still a Division I soccer program, and the campus was beautiful. Additionally, it had a great atmosphere with all types of students, majors, and especially a good science/health science program.
Ben: I was in the midst of transferring schools in 2004 and met with Coach Jarvis prior to going to Washington D.C. for summer leagues. I fell in love with the campus and enjoyed everyone I met along the way. He offered me a position on the team and everything seemed to fall into place after that. It was the single best decision I made during my college career.
What is your fondest athletic memory at Belmont?
Gretchen: Winning the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship my freshman year. We were such a close team that year and winning the championship really made it something we could never forget.
Ben: The 2007 Atlantic Sun Tournament, hands down. As a team, we were a very close group of seniors and our goal was to go out on top. Unfortunately, we lost in the championship game to Jacksonville, but it was a good ride. I still keep in touch with most of those guys, and some are my best friends.
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Belmont?
Gretchen: My teammates. They were there for me unconditionally throughout my soccer career at Belmont. With new assistant coaches each year, a new head coach my senior year, my team stuck together through it all. They pushed me to be better and work harder in practice and games. We stayed close and grew from each other, and I think it made all the difference in my four years at Belmont. Some of my best friends were my teammates at Belmont. We weren’t just a team, we were a family.
Ben: I think it was a good mix of coaches and teammates. Coaches keep you in line and have your best interests at heart, both on and off the field. Teammates are there to push you and make you better. If you don’t push each other to get better, someone else on another team is. A coach cannot get on the field and play the game for you, as much as I’m sure they’d like to sometimes.
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Belmont?
Gretchen: Lifelong friendships. Although most of us have spread out around the country since our time ended at Belmont, we’re still great friends and I think that will last for years to come. In addition, my education was also one of the most valuable things I gained from Belmont. With my major in Exercise Science and minor in Biology, I was accepted into one of the top Physician Assistant Programs in the country. With that, I have made it to where I am today.
Ben: A family, without a doubt. My actual family is very important to me, but I think both of my parents would even agree. You spend so much time with these guys and even their parents that it creates this wonderful extended family. I miss a lot of the folks, since parents aren’t necessarily around as much, but I still keep in touch with a majority of the guys and talk or text almost every day.
What advice would you give to current members of your former team?
Gretchen: Make these four years the best you can. Enjoy your time with your team and with your classes. You will make friends forever and the education you receive will be important for your future.
Ben: I’m not a very good person at giving advice, but I’d say try and get better at something every day. It’s the competitive edge that got you to where you are today, so don’t be complacent. At the same time, don’t take yourself too seriously. There is a happy medium in there.
“Baseball is a funny game…sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.”
Who was your favorite professor at Belmont and why?
Gretchen: Dr. Patrick Schneider, Exercise Science professor. He was an amazing teacher, he made class interesting, and always encouraged his students to reach for what they want. I’m pretty sure I was the only Exercise Science major who decided to pursue Physician Assistant school rather than Physical Therapy school. Even though I didn’t follow the normal path, he was very supportive of my decision and ultimately helped me achieve my goal of getting into PA school.
Ben: Marilyn Young, Tax Accounting. She was always smiling and there to help if you needed it. Her class was one of the most difficult for both undergraduate and graduate school, but at the same time the most rewarding. I don’t remember a day leaving that class and not having my hand cramp from notes.
Where do you live now?
Gretchen, Ben: We live in Avon, Colorado. It’s a small town about 10 minutes down the road from Vail, Colorado.
What is your present occupation?
Gretchen: Vail Summit Orthopaedics. I’m a physician assistant who works mostly with one surgeon at a practice of nine physicians. We work in the ski valley of Colorado which brings in patients from around the world. On a weekly basis I work in clinic and in the operating room. I see patients daily and perform physical exams, order and interpret labs and studies, diagnose disorders, and perform in-clinic procedures. Additionally, I assist my physician during all surgeries.
Ben: I manage IT Financial Operations for Tenet Healthcare. I work on financial modeling/forecasting, month end/year end close, etc.
Tell us about your family.
Gretchen, Ben: We got married in April of 2015. We were introduced at a mutual Belmont friend’s birthday cookout and unbeknownst to us it was an arranged meeting. We ended up being perfect for one another. We have a 6-year-old rescue pup who loves the mountain life just as we do.
If you are a former Belmont student-athlete and want to particpate in this series, please contact John Langdon at firstname.lastname@example.org.