Weekly Feature



2018-11-07 / Sports

Former ADs granddaughter plays for Lady Red Devils’ opponent

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter


Sports have only strengthened the bond between Jack Hesslink, left, and his granddaughter Reghan Meek, right, shown her with Meek’s brother Sean in a photo taken earlier this year. Hesslink, who was Clarence’s first-ever Athletics Director, will have an even greater interest than most in the outcome of Saturday’s Class AA girls soccer semifinal, which pits the Lady Red Devils against his granddaughter’s team from Bethlehem Central. Sports have only strengthened the bond between Jack Hesslink, left, and his granddaughter Reghan Meek, right, shown her with Meek’s brother Sean in a photo taken earlier this year. Hesslink, who was Clarence’s first-ever Athletics Director, will have an even greater interest than most in the outcome of Saturday’s Class AA girls soccer semifinal, which pits the Lady Red Devils against his granddaughter’s team from Bethlehem Central. As Clarence’s first Athletics Director and someone who helped expand the options available to female athletes during his 26 years in the position, Jack Hesslink is certainly proud to have witnessed the success across the board where Red Devil sports are concerned.

But, you can’t really blame him if he tones down his cheering for the girls’ soccer team this weekend when the Lady Red Devils take on Bethlehem Central in the Class AA semifinals. After all, his granddaughter plays for the Lady Eagles.

Reghan Meek is a senior midfielder who has scored two of her team’s 92 goals on the season, and is hoping to help make suburban Albany school’s first trip to the state semifinals since 2014 a memorable one.

“This year our whole team has developed a special bond that I personally have felt since the very first week of preseason,” Meek said. “Everyone has contributed to our offensive success, and the whole team in general is just very skilled, driven and protective of one another, which I think makes us a special and dangerous team on the field.”

Though Hesslink’s attendance at the game was still up in the air as The Bee went to press, he’s looking forward to the contest even if he can’t be there in person. Just don’t ask him to pick a winner.

“I’ll be in trouble with my granddaughter either way, so I’ll just say that I wish both teams a great, hard-fought game in what is sure to be one of the most memorable moments of their high school athletic careers,” Hesslink said. “All of these athletes work hard, and I know Reghan has traveled and played in many games – I’ve had the opportunity to watch her club team play a few times, most recently during a tournament in Batavia last year – which is what makes this is a great opportunity for both teams, but an even more special moment for me that one of my granddaughters has the chance to play in the state tournament.”

Meek, who has cousins who attend Clarence, is looking forward to having the chance to play in front of her extended

Clarence family this weekend. She and her family are able to return to the area three or four times a year, which only makes the prospect of facing the school where her mom, aunts and grandfather all played prominent roles all the more exciting for Meek.

“I really enjoy coming to Clarence to visit, and I’ve even come to Buffalo on a couple of college visits in the last month,” Meek said. “Who knows, I may play soccer in the Buffalo area next year. I know my grandparents would really like that.”

Reghan’s mom – and Hesslink’s daughter – Tracey Meek was just as cautious as her father about giving a prediction for the game. Sports, inevitably, played a significant role in shaping the 1986 Clarence graduate, who is a former four-year track and tennis team member that also managed the girls basketball and volleyball teams for two years.

With three sisters who all were given equal attention by their father during their Clarence careers, Tracey Meek knows the value sports can play in a young person’s life. Having the connection between her alma mater and her daughter’s current school for the state semifinals just makes everything come full circle.

“With four girls in our family growing up with our dad being who he was, it wasn’t so much if you were going to play sports, but which season you were going to play them in,” Tracey Meek said. “It was just a natural thing for us, and all of us were always doing something, whether it was soccer, gymnastics, running, softball ... you name it, one of us did it. And our dad had a huge influence on that; he was the athletic director when all of us attended Clarence.

“But as for Saturday’s game, I figure I’m in the best spot: either my daughter’s team wins, or my alma mater wins,” Tracey Meek continued. “But I’m not going to make a prediction just to keep peace in our house. It seems to me that both teams are excellent, so it should be some really fun soccer to watch. My biggest challenge now is finding something to wear with all four colors of the two schools.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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