The Seattle University women’s tennis team may have one of the smallest roster sizes amongst SU’s 20 varsity teams, but their impact is mighty as they received the Team Mission Award at this year’s Student-Athlete Awards Show. As each team is required to do service projects as part of their time as a student-athlete, the team went above-and-beyond, personally organizing and participating in several events throughout the year.
Corinne Wurden (Poulsbo, Wash.), who is heading into her senior year, said that, even though she knew the team had worked hard this year to serve their community, winning an award like this is “always a surprise. A very pleasant surprise.”
Wurden has type 1 diabetes, so the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is a cause close to her heart. As teammate Kristen James (Lubbock, Texas) notes, “this award goes to Corinne, because she organized all of the service projects we did. The honorary, sub-award of the award should say ‘To Corinne’”.
They participated in several events with the JDRF including handing out candy canes at the Gingerbread House in the fall, volunteering at the JDRF Gala in March, and raising over $600 as participants in the Nordstrom Beat the Bridge Run. Wurden had participated in the run for several years and upon coming to Seattle U, she got her teammates involved.
This year’s squad also organized the program’s first “Pink Match” to benefit breast cancer research and to honor a Seattle U tennis supporter recently stricken with the disease.
“We personally knew a woman who had just passed away from breast cancer, so obviously we were like ‘We need to do this’, said Wurden. “It was interesting organizing it and putting it together. The whole team was great in organizing things like what we should wear, with our pink socks and ribbons. It was really fun and we ended up raising a lot more than I thought we would, so that was great.”
Wurden and James each played tennis throughout their younger years, also each playing soccer and skiing, but both narrowed their focus in junior high. They each dreamed of continuing competition in college, and, for Wurden, her first steps onto the Seattle U campus sealed her fate.
“My friend played for SU and I visited her and saw the team play. When I saw the campus, I instantly fell in love with the school.”
James, originally from Texas, had every intention of staying in Texas for college until she received a phone call from head tennis coach Mark Frisby. She recalls, “I ended up staying with Corinne on my recruiting trip and it was fun. And here I am! It was a good decision.”
They each recognize traveling and time management as two of their favorite parts of being a student-athlete at Seattle U.
“Right now we’re in the off-season and I just have so much extra time,” says Wurden. “I think ‘Oh I could study or I could do something else’ whereas during tennis season it’s homework, then tennis practice, then coming home to read, and eat, and then study more. I also love traveling – I’d never really traveled before I came here, so tennis gave me the opportunity to do that. It’s wonderful, I love it.”
James adds, “I have no experience with the northwest except where tennis has taken me this past year and then coming here to school. So it’s really cool to see that aspect of the United States.”
More than anything, their time as Seattle U thus far has made real the importance and impact of the SU mission statement.
“One thing that is interesting is how we live in the city and it really opens your eyes to a different side of life in general,” says James. “That’s been good for me. You know that homelessness and other aspects of life exist, but when you’re kind of living amongst it, it becomes real. Once you experience it, you think about how you want to make a difference and it helps you get out of your bubble.”
Wurden agrees with the unique quality of Seattle U’s location. “I’m a nursing major and a theology minor, so my last two classes have really been talking about the ‘just and humane world’ part of the mission statement. I’ve always known [poverty] was there, but I’ve just recently re-thought about what I want to do with my nursing degree and wanting to help people. It also re-emphasizes how much more volunteer work I want the team to do next year.”