Meredith College hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on September 8, 2023, to celebrate the construction of a new softball, tennis, and golf complex that will allow athletes adequate space to train. Chris Speight Brown, ’76, along with her siblings, gave a $1 million lead gift that will name the Estes-Speight Family Athletic Complex in memory of her mother Mary Estes Speight, ʼ53, and her father Bobby Speight.
“The family legacy that you represent and that you now continue for us is much appreciated,” said President Jo Allen. “We’re very, very proud of our athletes here at Meredith. They are some of not only the greatest athletes, but they’re top scholars as well and they are such a part of the fabric of this institution and set the pace for all of us in so many ways that we’re particularly proud.”
Sports have always been important to the Speight family. Brown played tennis and golf and was on the synchronized swimming team while at Meredith. Her father was an All-American basketball player at NC State. Her daughter, Lisa Brown De Armas, graduated from Meredith in 2003. Brown says Lisa had a special bond with her grandmother. “Mom loved that Lisa continued the legacy of attending Meredith.” Brown’s sister Elizabeth Speight Cooley, was set to attend Meredith but NC State offered her a basketball scholarship. Brown’s brother, Bobby Speight played basketball at Ferrum before transferring to NC State and graduating in 1987.
“Our mom Mary Estes Speight, Class of 1953, loved any form of sports. She was an avid golfer and followed pro and college sports. She loved watching her seven grandsons play anything that included a ball,” said Brown. “My family wanted to honor our parents, who loved Meredith so much, by getting the ball rolling for Meredith Estes-Speight Family Athletic Complex.”
The building will include two large indoor batting cages that will double as indoor golf driving ranges, locker rooms, a student lounge, and public restrooms. In addition to the building, lights have been installed at the tennis courts and the tennis courts have been resurfaced. A new LED wireless scoreboard has been installed at the softball complex. An anonymous donor has also named one of the tennis courts.
“This investment has energized our athletics department and programs and our players all over campus. We believe it will contribute to our enrollment and our growth as a college,” said Shannon Yates, athletic director. “At Avenging Angel athletics, we are committed to having student-athletes who are champions in the classroom and on the competition field. We appreciate both families who have donated generously to our program. We hope that there are others here who will want to work with us as we continue to grow our brand and will want to contribute to our future success as we expand this building.”
The current construction is phase one of the project. Support is needed to start phase two, which will include other amenities for the complex. Inland Construction, headquartered in Garner, N.C., has been selected as the general contractor. Construction of phase one is expected to be completed during the 2023-24 academic year.
Learn more about Meredith Athletics at goavengingangels.com and to see construction updates visit meredith.edu/campus-growth. Interested in helping fund phase two of the project? Contact Cindy Godwin, associate vice president for institutional advancement, at email@example.com or (919) 760-8206.
Photo left to right: Bobby Speight, Jr., Elizabeth Speight Cooley, Chris Speight Brown, President Jo Allen, Shannon Yates