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Reflections on Four Years at Goucher College: Tennis

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

“Members of the Goucher College Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams pose with their families during the annual Tennis Family Weekend October 11, 2009.”

I’m currently halfway through my last week as a student at Goucher College, so naturally there’s been lots of time for reflection on my time spent here.

I’m overwhelmed when I think of all the different aspects of life that I and so many other students here juggled at once. So, while it’s impossible to comment on everything that I did over the past four years, I’m going to try and make some sense out of it all by posting about the most influential parts of my Goucher experience.

This is the first post in a series of several that will appear throughout this week. I usually don’t get too personal in my posts, but I won’t be able to help it for these. They’ll also likely be longer than usual, so don’t feel that you have to read all of my “thank you’s” and memories. They serve mostly as a permanent record for myself to look back on.

Tennis.

I came into Goucher a slick middle-infielder who had never played tennis as part of a team. I grew up on baseball and learned the many valuable lessons the game carries with it. Tennis was always an off-season activity I did to stay in shape, and up until several weeks prior to being accepted into Goucher, had no real intentions to continue playing at the college level.

I’m thankful that Goucher Athletics gave me the opportunity to do so. What started as a hobby quickly grew into a passion that brought me to tears as I walked off the court after my final match at Stevenson University several weeks ago. 

I’m a competitive person by nature, so overall, I was disappointed with our play during my four years. As a team, we didn’t have one winning season, and as an individual, my record was far below .500. 

It was incredibly frustrating at times, but in retrospect, wins and losses aren’t what I’ll take away from Goucher Tennis. What matters most is the irreplaceable leadership, friendship, and pride that builds within the program every year. 

What leaves the strongest impression on me is the sheer number of hours participating at the NCAA level requires. It’s not just playing matches. It’s practicing, team meetings, fundraising, and traveling. It’s your afternoons, your sunrises, your late nights, your weekends, your Spring breaks, and your Summer vacations. Almost every day revolves around the hours alotted for tennis. It’s taught me about commitment, time management, and persistence, lessons that carry far beyond any tennis court.

Mentally, tennis is a tough game, and it just about always left me absolutely baffled. Baseball just seemed much simpler to me for reasons I can’t explain. But despite the losses, I had fun playing and I enjoyed the battle, and I’ll never lose sight of that. Goucher Tennis has given me irreplaceable memories and laughs. I’ll miss the shirtless practices on the first days of spring. I’ll miss the 6 a.m. team lifting, the 9 p.m. hit sessions, the pre-game speeches, the post-game speeches, the closet-sized locker room, the Goucher Football T-Shirt sales, the laser tag in Virginia Beach, the team dinners at the Steamy’s BBQ’s of the world, the bus rides home, and the sweet sound of the Victory Bell. 

There are too many people to thank, but there are several that simply can’t go unrecognized. 

Thank you to Geoff Miller, Director of Athletics at Goucher, for your dedication and enthusiasm in making athletics as vibrant a part of the Goucher community as it is, and for your personal guidance, particularly during my Senior year. 

To Michael Vann, Head Coach of Goucher Men’s Tennis, thank you for finding the talent in me, for allowing me the opportunity to play tennis, for your coaching and mentorship, and for your friendship.

To Sally Baum, Head Coach of Goucher Women’s Tennis, thank you for your extensive wisdom and for always bringing the Men’s and Women’s teams closer together. 

Thank you to Doug Mangi, Mike Simon, Chris Covey, Henning Jakob, and Michael Brooks, the Team Captains I played under, for being the guys I look up to. The impressions you’ve left on me are too big to put into words. 

To Steve Baum and Dave Hemelt, my co-captains and “bros,” thank you for four years of friendship and many more to come. We’ll talk about it. 

We Goucher Tennis people always refer to ourselves as “family,” so I posted this photograph that I took on self-timer two fall seasons ago rather than any action shot I have.

It’s full of family, mentors, leaders, and friends. That’s Goucher Tennis at its finest. 

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