Skip to main content

Little 500: Confidence Built Here

Woman leaning against a stone wall
Nattie Meador—pictured at Armstrong Stadium, home of the Little 500—was a four-time member of the Alpha Chi Omega women’s team and served as president of the IUSF Rider’s Council for two years. Photo by Ann Schertz.

For Nattie Meador, BS’08, associate director of alumni relations for the IU Alumni Association, the Little 500 is more than a bike race. Her involvement with and leadership within the IU Student Foundation shaped not only her collegiate experience but impacted her life after IU.

Read more about her experience.

What was your involvement with the IU Student Foundation while you were a student?
Nattie Meador
: I was a part of the Student Foundation all four years at IU. I joined the Little 500 team for my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, my freshman year when I pledged. I knew when I joined Alpha Chi that I wanted to get involved in something, and I knew I wanted to do something athletic because I played tennis in high school. So, I joined the bike team and by way of joining the bike team, I got involved with IUSF.

Before joining Alpha Chi, I went to a Student Foundation callout meeting. I knew people who had been involved with IUSF, and they all said it was a cool experience. I sought out the organization coming in as a student, not really [knowing] what I wanted it to look like for me.

Through the experience of riding for a Little 5 team, I [was introduced to] the leadership roles IUSF has available for riders. I was asked my sophomore year to be vice president of the Riders Council, which is the governing student body over the riders. [The council] helps ensure the race is safe and teaches young riders how to ride on the track during rookie week. I was elected president of the Riders Council during my junior and senior years.

Women cheering with hands in the air
“By joining the bike team, I said ‘yes’ to something that I probably wouldn’t have done. But it seemed like a cool experience,” recalls Meador. “The confidence I gained is something I have used often—with job interviews, for public speaking, even in my personal life.” Courtesy photo.

Are you involved with IUSF today?
: Throughout the years, I have volunteered on race day as a line judge or in other ways that ensure teams stay safe. Given my role working for the IU Foundation and the IU Alumni Association, I’ve been involved more with alumni events—supporting the Student Foundation by helping with the tent parties that [host] alumni [on race day]. I’ve also been asked to speak to riders about my [Little 500] experience.

Why is it important for you to maintain a connection with IUSF?
: I have this need to give back to an organization that provided so much for me while I was in school. I [also loved] seeing how invested alumni were in the Little 500 experience [when I was a student]. Having people cheering, coaching, or volunteering for the race who had been a part of it for 20 or 30 years prior to me, that [was] really inspiring and I wanted to make sure that I could do the same.

There’s a man whose daughter is a good friend of mine. We were both in Alpha Chi together. Her dad served as one of the race officials for 25 years. He’d come back every single year and he had all this knowledge about the race and the impact of the Student Foundation. I knew when I graduated that I wanted to hang onto that feeling because it just reminded me so much of how awesome it was to be involved with IUSF. And I think that’s why I’ve held the organization close because it provided me so much. I wanted to figure out how I could repay that back to both the organization and the race itself.

What are some of the benefits IUSF provides to the IU student experience?
: The Student Foundation provides a community for students. It makes a campus that can otherwise feel really big, seem much smaller and more intimate.

Also, IUSF provides an opportunity to fail forward when learning how to be a leader. The Student Foundation is truly student-led and provides students with the [tools] to problem solve and work through adversity toward a common goal: hosting the Little 500.

How did your specific involvement benefit your IU experience?
: IUSF helped with confidence building. My time as vice president and president helped me with public speaking and gave me great anecdotes for job interviews.

My Student Foundation experience also fed my desire to be part of a team while also fostering a sense of belonging. Every time I was at the Wilcox House or the Little 500 track, I felt like I belonged and that I was valued. I felt like [the staff] cared about what we cared about as students, and they gave us enough space to be able to make decisions.

My involvement also exposed me to so many different people. When I came to this campus, I knew I wanted to pursue being in the Greek system, and that sort of silos you into a certain genre of student experience. Even though I rode for my sorority, being a part of the Student Foundation at a leadership level allowed me to meet different types of people from different backgrounds. I created lifelong connections.

Three women riding bikes in the Little 500 bike race
“I love the camaraderie of the women’s race. Even when you’re in the actual race, there’s [still] a sense of camaraderie and taking care of each other even though you’re all working toward hopefully winning,” says Meador, pictured center. Courtesy photo.

What is one of your favorite Little 5 memories?
: The hour before race day—when we were all getting ready and had those weird butterfly moments of riding from [our sorority house] to the track, then being on the track and catching glimpses of the thousands of people [in the stands]. One thing that would always tug at my heartstrings was being able to spot my family, who came every single year, in the stands. My favorite Little 5 moments were what I call “the in-between moments”—the things that happened that were almost passing thoughts or memories that probably wouldn’t stand alone or mean much [to the average person].

Find ways to support the IU Student Foundation.

Tags from the story

Written By

Lacy Nowling Whitaker

Lacy, a Bloomington native, earned two degrees from IU Bloomington (BA'08, MA'14) and is the Director of Content with the IU Alumni Association.

Related stories

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.: An Alum’s Ticket Memory

Ross Fazekas, BS’88, has been attending music concerts since 1982. He keeps every ticket stub and proudly displays hundreds of them in poster-size frames on the wall of his office…

Imani Sailers: Destined to Dance

Imani Sailers’ mother couldn’t help but notice that her daughter was enamored with the costumes and glitter at her cousin’s dance recitals. The twirling and turns made 3-year-old Sailers, BS’17,…

Illustration of a man looking through a telescope

Get the Gig: 4 Steps to a Better Job Search

Mike Schmeckebier, BS’00, MS’05, a career coach and lecturer at the Kelley School of Business, wants you to take control of your job search.

Picture of a building.

Travel Like a Local: Mexico City

Andrés Vargas, BA'23, moved to Mexico City following graduation. In this Q&A he shares his favorite spots for enchiladas suizas, mariachi, and Mexican beer.