A month after graduating from Assumption College, Meredith was chosen for one of four jobs out of 400 applicants at Eaton Vance. It’s a steady job with a chance to move up, and it’s in Boston, a city she loves and where many of her friends are.
But for all the job's perks and opportunities, Meredith’s heart was still set on something else. After all, how many people get to play basketball professionally?
Meredith is leaving on Monday to play in Denmark. She’s joining the Aabyhoj (pronounced OH-B-OY) basketball club, based out of Aarhus, the second-biggest city in Denmark.
Meredith knew she wanted to keep playing, but it wasn’t until the Eaton Vance interview that the 22-year-old Franklin resident had her mind settled.
"He actually said, ‘What, are you crazy? Go over there,’ " Meredith said of her interviewer. "And then come back (after playing) and have an interview, maybe not get the job but have a chance to get the same job. Him being that way and him being that positive really sealed the deal for me."
An undersized power forward, Meredith was contacted by Aabyhoj in the spring. She also heard from some Spanish teams, but was concerned about a recent history of teams going bankrupt midseason in Spain. Meredith is convinced Aabyhoj is solid financially.
Meredith got in touch with Courtney Coryea, a former college rival from Le Moyne College who played for Aabyhoj last season. Coryea returned stateside to take a job in New York, so Meredith will be the only American on the team on an otherwise all-Danish team. Coryea said the Danes look to the Americans as leaders.
Much to her relief, she discovered many Danes speak English.
"I wouldn’t want to go over there and sit on the bench," Meredith said. "I want to go over there and experience it and play basketball. So I talked to her and it was a blessing. It really just solidified everything."
The Northeast-10’s leading scorer last season, the 5-foot-10 Meredith exploded in the last two years from a role player to a nearly 20-point-per-game scorer despite routinely facing girls three-to-four inches taller.
It was in these past two years when Meredith started looking into pro options. She’ll become the first Assumption player under coach Kerry Phayre to play professionally.
"The most physically aggressive player I’ve ever coached," Phayre said. "She’s 5-10 but she played like she’s 6-2. She just has a great mentality. She knows how to score. Even in her senior year she was amazing me with what she could do."
The Danish season starts in September and lasts into March, with playoffs potentially going into late April. Meredith will make just $700 a month, but the team will take care of nearly every expense. "Unless I’m spending money on myself shopping, I’m not spending a dime," she said.
There’ll be a two-week window before the season starts when Meredith can back out of the deal, but she’s not expecting to leave. She’s committed for one year and is open to returning for another.
The team plays on Saturdays and practices four times between games. Meredith will live with a host family and coach a youth team.
"She functions pretty well on her own," says Meredith’s mother, Cathy Sullivan. "When she was a little girl, I would tell her to go get a gallon of milk and most kids wouldn’t do that, but she had no problem."
Meredith says the biggest change will be not having her sounding board around: her mother.
"The weirdest thing is not being able to vent to her after games," Meredith said. " ‘I can’t believe this happened or this happened.’ There have been three-hour conversations after some games and that’s going to be the biggest difference for me."
Sullivan was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in May 2010 and had a recurrence this past March. The family scheduled to take vacation this week on Chapoquoit Island on Cape Cod as a final family get-together.
But Sullivan has improved and her prognosis is now better.
"It was really tough on Kelly too," Sullivan said. "It was the end of her season her senior year. I’m glad my health didn’t interfere with her decision."
Instead, the week will serve as a last hurrah before Meredith’s big adventure.
Meredith was realistic enough to know she wasn’t a WNBA prospect. But for at least one year, she’ll get the professional experience she wanted.
"I knew I couldn’t play here. I wasn’t going to make it here," she said. "I’m an undersized post player. … I wanted to play over there and I worked hard, and it came through, thank God. I love basketball and this is what I’ve always wanted to do and I wasn’t ready to be done."