Leslie Payne joined the Meredith College athletics staff in August 2015 as the new Head Cross Country/Track & Field Coach.
In her two years at Meredith, she has led the cross country team to a USA South Women’s Cross Country Championship title and a runner-up finish. Last year, the team returned to the USTFCCCA national honor roll for the fourth time in program history, while three Angels set personal bests at the NCAA Regionals.
Under her direction, seven cross country runners have garnered All-Conference honors with six collecting Rookie of the Year nods. In two years, the cross country and track & field teams have combined for 33 USA South All-Academic honors.
The College’s varsity track and field program launched in spring 2016. In its second year, Payne helped lead Essence Thomas to a spot on the top-30 regional list in three sprint events and led Meredith to the inaugural Atlantic Independent Championship, where they joined five other programs.
Payne offers more than 20 years of coaching experience to the athletics team, most recently with a 10-year stint at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh. She directed the cross country team and managed primarily the distance runners in track, while teaching physical education classes. During her tenure with the Ravens, Payne elevated the girl's program to a state championship contender as one of the top-three private school programs in North Carolina. The boy's moved from a bottom-tier team to a seventh-place finish last spring.
In 1999 Payne served as the venue coordinator for the Special Olympics Track and Field World Games where she managed the 10-day international competition. During her two years with Team USA, Payne trained Special Olympics track athletes in a variety of events and traveled with athletes to multiple competitions.
A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor's in Physical Education, Payne advanced her knowledge with a Master's in Recreational Administration from North Carolina State University. Additionally, she completed her Level 2 USA Track and Field Coaches Association certification with an emphasis in endurance training.
After receiving her master's Payne served as a physical education instructor at N.C. State for four years while coaching at a local, private middle school.
Payne lives in Raleigh with husband Scott, and their son Alex will begin his freshman year in college this fall.