A Career from Tennis

As a high school athlete, I was not especially fast or strong, not technically well trained, and certainly not getting looks from colleges for sports.  The one thing that I did well was compete; in my family everything from fishing to finishing dinner is a competition.  I played soccer and baseball primarily and decided my Freshman year to switch from baseball to tennis in the spring, mainly because my dad played DI college tennis at Oneonta State in NY and my brother played for his four years of high school.

Throughout my high school tennis career I progressed from an exhibition player freshman year to the #2 singles player my senior year.  Frostburg State University had tennis courts with lights, but I was not recruited and had no real ambition or reason to think that I could play college sports.  I attended Frostburg because of the price point, a new science building, and a nationally accredited teaching program.

Walking across campus in the fall, several individuals were playing tennis and I decided to walk down and have a look.  One of the players was the #1 doubles player the previous year and as I watched him hit, it seemed possible that I was capable of helping this team.

Stuart Swink, the coach, welcomed me to the team and my college tennis career began.  The first day of practice we were shoveling snow off the court, but it was clear that this was a coach unlike any other.  He had a dynamic personality and his unique blend of joking and insults created a tone which was both fun and intense.  The amount of knowledge I would gain from this man and the relationships built through a team he created make me forever grateful.

After my freshman season, two players and I became roommates and got a triple room in Annapolis Hall.  This is a freshman dorm which we had to get special permission in order to live together.  This was important enough to me to give up “honors” housing which was air conditioned, had larger rooms, and more private bathrooms.  We remained in that dorm for two years and they have remained my lifelong friends.

In 2007, we won the AMCC Conference Championship.  My teammates and the journey we went through to accomplish this task will never be forgotten.

The coach and athletic program at Frostburg took care of us each year with new uniforms, team shoes, jackets, sweats, strings, etc.  The food, however, is something that I did not expect.  It was not uncommon for the team after a match to visit an all-you-can-eat steakhouse or pizzeria or a mysterious diner that had something amazing.  The best part: the school paid for it all!

One of the benefits of Division III athletics is that since there is no financial aid awarded for athletics, they remain a secondary priority to academics.  However, you are still expected to perform at a collegiate level and there is not much room for excuses.  Taking a full course load in biology and undergoing student teaching never became an excuse to miss a practice or game.  That level of commitment allowed me to progress from a #2 singles and #2 doubles player as a freshman to the #1 singles and #1 doubles player through sophomore and junior year.  One lesson learned between those years is that even teams who are not very strong have a good player at #1.  There is never a day off when facing a college’s top player.

If you want to view my records, they are available here (2006-2009).

I have no doubt that participation on this team helped provide me the confidence and skill set needed to obtain and be successful at my first teaching position at Chopticon High School.  In fact, it was one of my roommates, who didn’t want to make the trip alone, that convinced me to attend the job fair where I was interviewed for the position.  That job, where I coached three sports, led to my tenure as the head coach at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

All these experiences helped pave the way for me to accept a job as the athletics director and science teacher at Chelsea Academy.  I look forward to continue working to provide our student-athletes the belief that they can accomplish things which seem out of reach.  We never know how the experiences of our past will influence our future.

Post by: Greg Shedd, Athletics Director


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