Jacqueline Lacy ’20, a psychology major and captain of the Bulldog women’s tennis team, spoke recently at the Tennis Alumni Weekend. Here are her remarks.
When Coach Steve Marshburn ’01 asked me to speak at this event, he said that I should speak on what he deemed a few “quick and easy things,” like why I originally chose the University of Redlands and my experience on the tennis team. As I prepared these remarks, I thought about what initially drew me to the University but, surprisingly, I could not come up with a singular concrete answer. As I reflected on the past four years, however, I know that there was no better place for me.
When I first visited the University, I never had that “ah-ha” moment where I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. Admittedly, I did not love the size of the school (I initially thought it was too small); it did not have my preferred major (which originally was nursing); and I thought it was too close to my hometown of Palm Desert, California. But the tennis program seemed solid and the campus was beautiful, so I just went with it—and I am so happy I did.
Throughout these four years, I have seen a multitude of changes in the Bulldog tennis program, but one of the few factors that has remained constant is the secret backbone of our team, Kenny [Whitmer ’80, assistant women’s tennis coach]. On his first day of coaching here, this All-American came to our practice with his Big Gulp Polar Pop, ready to go. He has always listened to me, defended me, and, when I needed it, put me in my place. Even though he no longer directly battles for sets, he is still securing our wins every season from the sidelines. I never knew I needed a Coach Kenny in my life, but U of R did.
Along with the coaches I have had the privilege of playing for, the friends I have made here have truly shaped who I am. The day-in and day-out grind of a student-athlete creates a bond unlike any other, and several of my best friends are products of this program. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such elite teammates, with whom I know I will be friends for life.
It has not always been the smoothest ride, but having good people by my side has made it worthwhile. I have battled injuries, tough losses, teammates leaving, staff changing, and so much more—but each experience has taught me how to handle challenging situations and has made me into the strong woman that I am today.
When I recently asked myself, “Why did you choose Redlands tennis?,” I did not have a definitive answer, but I am now certain that Redlands tennis knew to choose me. As I approach my final season, I cannot help but be eager to see what else Redlands has in store for me.
Learn more about Bulldog Athletics, Bulldog women’s tennis, U of R’s psychology major, or the campaign for the tennis complex. Questions about the campaign can also be directed to Ericka Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-748-8357.