Women's Tennis |
May 6, 2011
By Jeff Gentil
There comes a point in everyone's life where difficult decisions must be made. For high school student-athletes good enough to play their particular sport in college, they must decide whether or not to leave the comforts of home for the great unknown that is a school away from home. Strange surroundings, new people, and developing a relationship with a new coach can be a whirlwind of emotions even for the toughest person.
A UC, there is not one, but two wonderful situations where not only did the student-athlete decide UC is the place they want to play and attend college, but they also have the added fortune of being coached by their mother.
Sophomore Alex Carl and her mom Janet combine for the golfing duo. Alex is coming off her second year as a major contributor, while Janet just completed her seventh season as women's head coach. And while it may seem like an easy decision to play golf for your mom in college, it wasn't as easy as you might think.
"It was definitely a consideration to get as far away from home as I could, "Alex admitted. "It was a really hard decision in the end. The recruiting process was a bit more informal. It was definitely not like with the other schools and players."
For Janet, the process was obviously a lot different from the normal recruitment as she was struggling with how to approach the situation.
"She had four extremely good offers from extremely good programs," she said. "My husband said 'Have you ever talked to her as a coach?' So we sat down and I talked to her as a coach. I honestly had no idea until the final day that she would come to UC."
For Carly and Angela Wilson, getting to continue their great relationship on and off the tennis court is a dream come true for both. Carly, a freshman, says she never really considered going away to play.
"I thought about it, but my mom's always been my coach," she said. "It would have been really weird not to have her as my coach. It never would have felt as comfortable."
The big school atmosphere also played a big role according to Angela, who just finished her third year at the helm of UC Tennis. "She really wanted a bigger school. So she really liked UC a lot and I think that had a lot to do with (why she decided to come to UC)."
While the recruiting process is just one potentially sticky situation, the dynamic of the mother-daughter relationship gets a stiff test once competition comes into play. It can tear some people apart, but all parties agree it has been a very smooth transition.
"Oh, it has been a treat," Janet said. "I feel very fortunate to be able to play both roles."
Alex concurs: "It's been relatively easy. Growing up, she was always my coach. She knows my swing and we can feed off each other's energy."
"It's really been great," Angela said. "We had a good relationship prior (to her coming to UC) and we continue to have a good relationship. It's more mother-daughter at home but (on the court) we have set some ground rules and she knows she has to follow the team rules. But (off the court) she can come home and we can hang out at night."
Carly knows how lucky she has it with her mom so close to her: "It has been great; I've really enjoyed it. There is a different dynamic now. On court, she's coach. But off it we still get to hang out at home or we will go to lunch. I would miss her a lot if I went to another school to play."
Initially there may have been fears about preferential or stiffer treatment simply because of the relation factor. But, due to some strict guidelines and some very level-headed people, there have been no problems thus far.
"My mom is a pretty cool coach," Carly said. "She's pretty fair, that's why there hasn't been any backlash. She gets the college student thing and there has been no anger or jealousy. I think sometimes my teammates will have me ask hard questions so she'll be mad at me (instead of them) and she gets over it easier."
"I wonder if I've been harder on her," Janet said. "I talked with (cross country/track coach) Bill Schnier before she came to school and he advised 'just don't be harder', so I think that's always in the back of my mind."
According to Alex, the treatment has been fair: "She treats me like one of the other players. There is no favoritism."
Perhaps a big factor with both sports is the lack of substitution and the fact that what is most important is your score on the course and how you play on the court. It is simple. You score lower, you play. You beat your teammates in practice, you play.
"I'm very fortunate," Janet admitted. "Golf is black and white. The team knows how I choose the team. You score better, you play."
Angela Wilson has the same fortune: "Carly knows she has to prove her own way. There is no subbing. She's in the lineup based on how she plays (against teammates in practice)."
Being just a freshman this year, Carly didn't see as much court time as she would have liked. But, going 2-2 in BIG EAST competition is a good sign going toward next year and that is something she and her mom will build on.
"I can see her really contributing next year," Angela said. "I love seeing her get better. She's handled things very well this year."
As you can probably already guess, there are no regrets or second-guessing involved in anyone's mind. The mother-daughter bond for these four women is as tight, if not tighter, than it ever was before.
"I'm sure she always feels pressure with the mom and daughter thing," Janet said. "She has handled it very well. The things she brings to the team are very much needed."
"She's handled it very well," Angela said. "Freshman year is tough anyway, then you throw in being an athlete, then your mom as your coach. It's hard, but comforting to be able to answer her questions and give her a hug. She's gone through all the things other freshmen go through like everyone else. It's nice to be there to comfort her."
"No regrets," Carly said. "We were always close before, but this has brought us closer. It's great. The season is over and she's back as my mom."