Well yesterday and today (Monday) have been very busy and fun-filled! Yesterday was our beach day. We had an early morning practice at the tennis center and then headed to the beach where we spent several hours laying out, playing in the water, looking for shells and we even saw some dolphins! We then ate dinner at a restaurant right off the beach called “The Hangout.” They have delicious seafood (for those who are into that sort of thing) and also delicious hamburgers! (my king of thing). After returning to our hotel, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and resting.
Today started off with an early morning as well. We headed to the tennis center at 7:30am to play a couple practice matches with other teams who are in the National Tournament as well. This helped us prepare for our first official match of the tournament which is tomorrow at 1:00pm. Immediately after our matches we grabbed some lunch at a place called “Firehouse Subs” where we met an NFL football player! His name was Brandon Maye who played at Clemson, Mississippi State and then went on to Tampa Bay. After becoming injured, he has currently left the football business, wrote an autobiography and is doing some motivational speaking!
Then it was time for one of my most favorite parts of the day. The tennis teams who come to the National Tournament have opportunity to go into elementary schools all over Mobile Alabama to teach the young kids how to play tennis. This was a blast! Our team along with three others were sent to one of the schools in Mobile, which happened to be the largest. There were three rounds of kids which lasted 20 minutes leach. We played with Kindergarteners, First graders and second graders. They were adorable! I had so much fun teaching and playing with them and they were having just as much fun learning! One of my favorite moments from this experience was with a young kindergarten aged boy. He had his racket in his hand, a ball in the other and looked up at me and said: “If I hit the ball straight up into the air, how high would it go?” I replied with “Oh, it could go pretty high!” His response: “Could it go all the way up to God?” My heart just melted. My experience with this young boy will never be forgotten, him fully expressing his faith as a young child, so open and innocent, not worrying what others will think or say, something that I sometimes fail to do.
After this fun experience the day was not over! We came back, had a few hours of free time before it was time for our 2013 NAIA Banquet of Champions. This is a fancy dinner hosted inside of our hotel for all of the tennis teams men’s and women’s who made it to Nationals. Everyone dresses up and sits with their team at designated tables for the program. One of the things they do at the banquet is announce awards and recognitions for the NAIA. Miranda Weaver, a senior on the tennis team (and my lovely sister) received the award of “Champions of Character” in which one person from each team is awarded. Miranda, Steph Shogren and Shayne Runnion recieved the Scholar-Athlete award which entails either being a junior or senior with a GPA of 3.5 or above. Last but definitely not least was that Same Gaeddert, one-of-a-kind assistant coach was the regional winner for Assistant Coach of the year and therefore was nominated for the NAIA National Assistant Coach of the year. Our team is so proud of him! That is definitely well-deserved.
That’s it for now, I will update again on how our first official match against Oklahoma Baptist University goes tomorrow. Until then!