NOTE: This is part of a series on athletics.covenant.edu with feature stories written by the student-athletes about their time at Covenant. This series is in conjunction with NCAA Division III Week (April 3-9), an annual event to celebrate the accomplishments on and off the field of student-athletes in the NCAA's largest division.
By Claire Luger
(Covenant '17; Women's Tennis)
Looking back, my journey to Covenant College was completely out of my control and unexpected, two words that make me uneasy. I have always been a girl who likes to feel completely in control, even though I know that this isn't the case.
Early in 2012, I had sent my tuition deposit to a different school and yet something did not feel right. This gut feeling propelled me to Google "Christian Colleges" which led me to Covenant's home page. I had never heard of Covenant College or Lookout Mountain, Georgia, but decided to visit. I arrived at the campus on a day when the fog was so thick you could not see your hands if you held them in front of your face and yet I thought, "I think this is for me." It was the warm greetings from the people I met that drew me in.
Once again, looking back I see how things were completely out of my control. I am a Florida girl to the core and get the shivers when the temperature drops below 80 degrees. I'm not sure if it was the smell left on my clothing after leaving the Great Hall or the dew that was perpetually on my face from the cloud, but in August 2013, a bunch of screaming "O-Team leaders" unpacked my car and here I was.
After a strenuous four years of high school tennis I never imagined I would play competitive tennis again. However, I was asked if I played a sport, met the head tennis coach (John Hirte), and found myself in the athlete information session one week later. Ironically, it was the tennis team that made me feel like Covenant was where I belonged.
In the midst of life's ups and downs and the frequency with which times get tough in college (and in life), it was the tennis team that supported and loved me better than I could have asked. Being on the tennis team for four years has shaped me in more ways than I probably know or even realize today. It has taught me how to endure when things are hard, love those who are different than me, laugh at myself and not take things so seriously and, most importantly, enjoy life. With the nature of tennis as an individual sport it has, at times, been strictly a mental battle. You can be playing a match, have a strong lead, and all of the sudden the momentum shifts. This is when I learned to employ my strategic "sing a song to myself" method.
Looking back I can see how I can take these lessons and apply them to life. It is when you have been standing, face pressed against the fence for three hours, hands freezing, nose and ears unbearably cold, cheering for the final match that you realize the unique opportunity afoot. It is when you are the final match; the deciding point that you realize this is when every minute from practice finally pays off. The dedication I have learned from tennis will follow me into my post-college career.
Tennis has provided me the opportunity to meet girls and guys from all over the country solely because of a mutual love for a sport. There is unbelievable support between and within the team members. Most importantly, it has been Coach Hirte who has made tennis so much more than just a sport. He taught me the importance of playing hard without expecting perfection, representing Christ on and off the court, and treating both teammates and opponents with the greatest amount of respect. Coach also enjoys the humorous moments of life and has demonstrated the importance of being goofy and enjoying (a lot of) candy every now and then.
While there have been times when I've wanted to hang up the racket so to speak, I can look back and see how tennis has shaped me as a woman as I prepare to enter into the business world and life. Never did I ever imagine my time, as a student-athlete, would be so sculpting.