Although Harlis Meaders is in his first year as North Carolina’s head track and field coach, he is no rookie when it comes to sporting Tar Heel blue on the winner’s podium.
Twenty years ago, Meaders won back-to-back ACC outdoor titles for UNC in discus and an indoor title in weight throw. He also captained the 1992 team that won the ACC outdoor title.
This weekend, he’ll return to the ACC Indoor Championships at Virginia Tech’s Rector Field House as UNC’s head coach.
“I don’t know if there’s a big difference between how I felt as an athlete and how I feel now as a coach,” Meaders said. “I don’t get a chance to wear a uniform, and I don’t get a chance to throw anything. But other than that, I’m just as excited as the kids are.”
Since Meaders arrived, he has focused on uniting his athletes by calling more team meetings and dinners. He said it’s team policy that athletes must sit with a teammate outside of their specialties.
Junior distance runner Patrick Schellberg said he believes additional bonding will help the team on race day.
“Our team has been more separated in the past event-wise, but this year coach Meaders has been really focusing on unifying our team as a whole,” Schellberg said.
The team has also dedicated itself to “being the better blue.” Junior distance runner Isaac Presson said its meaning can be boiled down to selflessness and improvement.
“Being the better blue is leaving everything on the track and supporting your teammates,” Presson said. “We’re still out there competing as a team and even if you’re not scoring the most points, you’re trying to help support from the sidelines.”