Julie Meeks enjoyed teaching at Terre Haute North High School the last few years.

But the daily drive from her home in Carlisle took its toll on her time and her gas expenses.

So in July, Meeks accepted a job at Sullivan to replace Chad Smith as its girls varsity basketball coach. She’s also teaching physical education and health at the high school.

Meeks didn’t exactly come in as a stranger.

Known as Julie Rotramel as a teen-ager, she played on Sullivan’s 1982 state-finalist girls basketball team and graduated from there in 1984. She also coached the female Golden Arrows’ basketball team for four seasons (1999-2003) before heading to North.

Now she’s back home.

“I’m really happy about being back,” Meeks told the Tribune-Star on Tuesday. “I feel like I’m having a good rapport with the team.”

Meeks admitted that she feels a little rusty “trying to get back into the swing of things,” but that feeling should disappear soon.

Below is how Sullivan and South Vermillion appear to stack up with the other Western Indiana Conference girls teams:

• • •

• South Vermillion — Beginning his 28th year at the helm Tuesday night at home against Seeger, Tim Terry plans on six seniors — all of whom saw varsity action during South Vermillion’s 10-11 campaign in 2006-07 — bringing much-needed experience to the Wildcats.

They are 5-foot-4 Jenni McLeish, 5-5 Nikki Fuqua and 5-5 Kelsi Cheesewright, all guards; 5-10 center Caitlin Phillips; and 5-7 Megan Samuelson and 5-7 Becky Myers, both forwards.

“We’re not going to be real big, but I think we’ll be quick,” Terry assessed before Tuesday’s game. “It’s hard to say how our shooting will be, but hopefully we can get up and down the floor quickly and pressure the ball.”

Terry added that the Wildcats should feature a balanced scoring attack. “They’re all pretty unselfish,” he said.

Terry proclaimed Owen Valley, which finished 24-2 overall and won the WIC title last season, as the favorite to win the WIC this season.

After that, he continued, it’s pretty much anybody’s guess where each team finishes in the standings.

“All the teams in the conference are going to be strong,” Terry predicted.

• Sullivan — In her return to Sullivan, Meeks intends to utilize four key returnees who are now seniors.

They are 5-9 center Emily Lahay (last season’s leading scorer with an average of about 14 points per game), 5-8 forward Amber Horton, 5-7 guard Erika Huff and 5-6 guard Paige Bond. Joining them in the starting lineup will be 5-6 junior point guard Annie Clark. Meeks said 5-4 junior Andrea Jones and 5-10 sophomore Shelby Lamb also should see plenty of action.

“I’ve got four seniors who’ve got experience,” Meeks pointed out. “That experience alone will help us. They’re very athletic and very versatile.”

As for the team as a whole, Meeks said: “We’ve been working very hard and the girls have put in a lot of extra time.”

Meeks hopes Sullivan, which ended up 7-15 last season, will be more balanced on offense this season. “I don’t want Emily Lahay to think she has to score all the time,” she mentioned.

Meeks agreed with Terry that Owen Valley should be favored to capture the conference crown again. Sullivan will meet the Patriots on Feb. 1, the last day of the regular season, at Spencer.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens when we meet up with them,” Meeks said.

Ironically, the Arrows’ season opener will be against WIC foe Northview (with Smith as its new coach) at 7:30 tonight in the HI-99 Clabber Girl Classic at West Vigo.

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