Meredith Stafford was a member of the Tennessee State University women's basketball team for four years. As a senior, she was the team's second leading scorer and posted double figures in 21 games. She led the team in steals and free-throw percentage and finished ranked 16th in the OVC in scoring. She was also listed among the active OVC leaders in scoring, assists and steals. In May, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Health Sciences.
TSUTigers sat down with Meredith to talk about her TSU experience.
M. Stafford: My overall experience at TSU has been a great one. I would not change a thing about it. I've gained a few lifetime friends and extended family because of my experiences at TSU. During my four years I have made many mistakes and experienced many successes. I've grown as a woman, friend, teammate, and leader while I was here. All the good times and bad times have made me a better person.
TSUTigers: What do you love most about TSU?
M. Stafford: What I love most about TSU is the family atmosphere and school spirit. I love how the fans get during football season when the band is playing. I definitely love hearing the band play. I also love how caring and supportive the department of Health Sciences is. My advisor and professors were very helpful during my three years in the department.
TSUTigers: What will you miss most about TSU?
M. Stafford: I will miss the times spent with my team and coaches the most. I'll miss the annual Christmas parties, retreats, road trips, and team dinners at Coach Wells' house. Even though at the time it felt like we were always together, I now cherish those memories. I also will miss hearing my name being called out in the starting lineup, the feeling of being out on the court competing, and the new edition to our team, baby Chase lol. I am going to miss courtyard Wednesday and just hanging out and walking around campus in my spare time.
TSUTigers: What is your most memorable basketball moment at TSU?
M. Stafford: My most memorable basketball moment was during my junior year after we beat Tennessee Tech at their place. I think that was the first away game we won that season. We rode this really nice bus up there. It was almost like a small tour bus. After the game we were so excited and happy that we won, the whole trip back we had the music blasting and everybody was up dancing and singing. It was a bus ride home I'll never forget.
TSUTigers: What is your most memorable non-basketball moment at TSU?
M. Stafford: I have a lot of memorable moments but two standout the most. My first most memorable non-basketball moment at TSU was on Cinco de Mayo sophomore year. That was during finals week. My roommate and suitemates were all packing and studying for finals. We pretty much got tired of studying around 11 that night. So we ended making homemade videos the rest of the night. We posted them to Facebook. My roommate and one of my suite mates were transferring to another school the next year, so that was our way of having some fun for the last night we were all together. This night was so much fun and we still laugh to this day about those videos.
My second most memorable moment was junior year on my 21st birthday. My roommates decorated the door to my room and the living room table. They also snuck in my room while I was gone and put my birthday presents in there. They got me an ice cream cake because they knew I loved ice cream cakes and hadn't had one since my 18th birthday in high school.
TSUTigers: Talk about the transition of playing on the college level?
M. Stafford: The transition to playing on the college level was a little difficult. The hardest part was getting use to the pace of the game and the practices and workouts. I hadn't experienced the same kind of workouts in high school. I never pushed my body that hard during preseason workouts, conditioning, and weights. Once my body got adjusted to the new workouts, things became easier. Another thing I had to get use to was not having much spare time.
TSUTigers: What advice would you give to incoming freshman?
M. Stafford: My advice to incoming freshman is to get to know the people that work in athletics and join other clubs and organizations outside your sport. Also, it is important to always work hard because hard work pays off even if you can't see it at the moment. Have patience with yourself and build a relationship with your coach and teammates. When things aren't going right make an effort to talk to your coach about it in a respectful, professional manner. Also it is necessary for incoming freshman to stay on top of their school work because you miss a good amount of class time for competition. Never be afraid to ask for help.
TSUTigers: What was your most challenging class at TSU?
M. Stafford: My most challenging class at TSU was Anatomy for Health Care Professionals.
TSUTigers: Who have been the most influential people to you at TSU?
M. Stafford: The people who have influenced me the most while at TSU are Coach Wells, Coach Wynn, and Coach Jordan.
TSUTigers: What's next for you?
M. Stafford: In August, I will be starting my first year of graduate school at Belmont University. I will be working towards my Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree.
TSUTigers: What have you learned at TSU that you will keep with you for the rest of your life?
M. Stafford: I have learned how to work through adversity and to never give up. You always hear hard work pays off, but during my four years at TSU I really grasp the full meaning of that phrase. Now when I tell other people that hard work pays off, I truly mean it because I experienced it. I also will take with me the phrase Coach Wells would always, always say, "don't cry over spilled milk." I understand that now because you can't take back anything you have done wrong. All you can do is move on and learn from your mistakes.