Heidi Meeks and Jayme Castillo (Student)

Heidi Meeks and Jayme Castillo

Whether competing on the ice, working hard in the classroom or volunteering time to serve others around the world, seniors Jayme Castillo and Heidi Meeks’ No. 1 goal is to be great ambassadors for Mississippi State.

Castillo is a chemistry major with a biology minor from Huntsville, Alabama; Meeks, a biological sciences/pre-medicine major with a mathematics minor from Memphis, Tennessee.

The two met through mutual friends when Castillo was a sophomore and Meeks a freshman. At the time, Castillo—a skater since age 4—was a member of the MSU Ice Dawgs hockey team.

With her friend’s encouragement, Meeks decided to also join the team. Though not quite the ice veteran as Castillo, Meeks had been playing ice hockey since the eighth grade while living in Minnesota.

Part of the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference, the Ice Dawgs team currently includes approximately 20 members, of which Castillo and Meeks are the only females.

Both women said they appreciate the camaraderie of their male counterparts. “If we get hit by another team, they’ll have our backs and stand up for us, but they pretty much just treat us like any other players,” said Meeks. “At the end of the day, we’re all out there to play hockey.”

Added Castillo, with a smile: “We do get our own locker room, but that’s about the extent of our special treatment. We have a really nice fan base, so we sign a lot of autographs when we play at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.”

Of necessity, Ice Dawgs members are away from campus a great deal during the season’s peak from November through January. At least once a month, they also must travel for practice on a rink in the Birmingham, Alabama, suburb of Pelham.

“There’s definitely a lot of traveling involved, but we enjoy it,” Castillo said. “Hockey is so fast paced, so it leaves room for creativity. My favorite part is the fact that a lot of it is a thinking game.”

In addition to sports, both women share a passion for service. As Castillo did two years ago, Meeks now is preparing to embark this summer for a weeklong medical mission trip to Honduras sponsored by the university’s student-led Global Medical and Dental Brigades chapter.

Scheduled to graduate in May, Castillo admitted that much of her time these days is devoted to making the “tough, yet best, possible decision” of choosing which offer letter she should accept from one of two medical schools.

While Meeks’ graduation is a year away, she also has her heart set on medical school, with a career goal to become a pediatric oncologist.

In the meantime, the two friends and teammates remain committed to inspiring other young women to “keep the hockey legacy alive” on campus.

“A lot of the little girls who come and ask us for autographs always are talking about wanting to start playing, and we’re like ‘Yes, do it! It’s so fun!’” Castillo said. “Those girls can start practicing and maybe when they get older, they can come and play for MSU.”