There’s a new face on the sidelines for Cedarville women’s soccer this season. Following the retirement of John McGillivray, new head coach Jonathan Meade is ready to assume the role and take the program to even higher heights.
Meade comes to Cedarville after an eight-year stint as the head coach at Ohio Dominican University, where he led the Panthers to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship and an NCAA national tournament berth last season.
“Coach Meade has been successful at the DII level with Ohio Dominican,” said Cedarville Athletic Director Dr. Alan Geist. “He has an understanding of this region and what it takes to recruit. He’s beaten some schools in the GLIAC and if you’re going to do well in this region you have to beat some schools in the GLIAC.”
Beyond his credentials as a coach, Meade impressed Geist with his understanding of what Cedarville is all about.
“If you’re going to hire someone at Cedarville, it’s nice if they have experience, but it’s neat to see how much they appreciate this atmosphere and being able to share the Gospel, being able to share in a ministry,” Geist said. “And he’s approaching coaching this team as that, which is exactly what we want.”
Meade spent his playing career and the first half of his coaching career competing against Cedarville at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
“I was very impressed with Cedarville back then,” he said. “Coach Mac was someone that helped me in my young career and someone that I looked up to. I always thought that maybe some day Cedarville would be a great place to be.”
Now that he’s here, Meade has set to work implementing a new style of play and structuring practices for specific goals. The transition has been smooth for the most part, helped by the fact that assistant coach Brianne Barnes is back for her sixth season.
“It’s always hard, transitioning coaches,” said senior captain Grace Miorelli. “They’re completely different in their personalities and coaching styles. But, you can’t say that one is better or worse than the other, they’re just different. Having Bri here has made the transition much easier.”
On the field, Meade has lofty goals for the program, including winning a national championship.
“Coach Mac led them to the national tournament last year, so he’s set the bar high,” he said. “We want to be a national tournament team every year and then a team that’s competing for a national championship and making it to the Elite 8 and Final Four.”
The players are buying in, knowing that while these goals may seem far off, what they do now will set the stage for the teams to come.
“He’s very clear that he wants to compete for a national championship, so we need to make steps towards that goal,” said junior captain Hannah Velloney. “While this year that might be a little lofty, our goals are to win the GMAC regular season and tournament championships and get a bid to the NCAA tournament.”
Off the field, both players and coaches are optimistic about what the future holds. “We’re all excited to see where Coach Meade takes us,” said senior captain Chandra Swiech. “To see him pushing us to pray in different ways and pushing us spiritually has been encouraging.”
Meade said that he is ready to embrace Cedarville culture. “The faith community here has been overwhelming to me in a good way,” Meade said. “I’m looking forward to my family and I getting involved and embracing everything that Cedarville is all about.”
Tyler Greenwood is a junior mechanical engineering major and a sports reporter for Cedars.