Sept. 30, 2015
“Our Stories” is a RamblinWreck.com feature that provides first-person stories from current Georgia Tech student-athletes on their journey through academics, competition, and life once their athletic careers are over. These young men and women represent the ideals of what it means to be a STUDENT-athlete at Georgia Tech.
These are their journeys in their words.
By Megan Kurey
Senior, Management major
I thought I had everything figured out. I finally found the place where I was going to spend the next four years of my life. I had my bags packed and I was ready to walk out the door to start the next chapter of my life. Before I was set to leave for Atlanta, I received the news that my head coach, who had recruited me for the past two years, was headed to another school. I couldn’t help but be disappointed because of the long process it took me to find the perfect fit. After a small amount of consideration, I knew that there were multiple reasons why I chose Georgia Tech, not just one. I proceeded to head down the road to Atlanta and little did I know the joys that were ahead of me at a place I now call home.
I remember my first day at Georgia Tech, as a little freshman walking with my tennis racquets to Peters Parking Deck (our new Ken Byers Tennis Complex was in the process of being built) and not knowing what my future held for me at this unfamiliar place. Fast forward to today where I am starting my senior year now, and looking back on that day, I feel like a completely different person. My experiences at Tech, both up and down, have shaped me and helped me grow into the person I am today.
One of my highest of highs at Georgia Tech was when my doubles partner Kendal Woodard and I won the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship during our sophomore year. The process of what it took to get to that moment might not have seemed worth it at that time, but looking back, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I remember having to go into Theresa Wenzel’s office to ask permission to miss extra days of school because we had to travel so much to have even been able to get into the tournament. She said she would allow it as long as we went up there and gave it our all, and that we did.
Taylor Swift’s words, “Welcome to New York, we’ve been waiting for you” definitely come to mind when thinking back on that journey two years ago. When the draw finally came out, Kendal and I looked at each other as if to say “we got this.” Our final match could not have been any tighter, but Kendal and I always like to keep things entertaining. The moment that last ball landed wide, all we felt was sweet relief. That memory will stick in my head for years to come, but it was the constant support that seemed like a victory to me. Honestly, the whole match is a blur, but opening my phone and seeing all the messages that I received from everyone back in Atlanta is something that will always stand out. The amount of support that we received that week from our Georgia Tech family was unimaginable. This experience showed me that there is truly nothing quite as rewarding as being a part of the Georgia Tech community.
With all the good comes some bad. Injury is a term that almost every single athlete is well aware of. This is a term I have known all too well throughout my tennis career. I mean seriously who gets a concussion playing tennis? Well, me and Nathan Rakitt.
Anyway, I developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot, something that can really only go away by “resting.” That didn’t sit well with me; needless to say I celebrated our win by getting the first of many injections in my foot when we got back. At the time, we only had six people on our team and just in case you don’t know that much about tennis—you need six people to play every match. Therefore, if any of us got injured at any time in the season, we were going to have to forfeit a singles and a doubles match. To this day, I still think it was a miracle that we all made it through that season without having to forfeit one match. That season put major wear and tear on my foot, which resulted in me sitting on the bench for the next seven months.
Everyone always says, ‘You don’t realize how much you miss something, until you can’t have it,’ and boy, is it true. Tennis has always been something that I have been able to fall back on when things got tough, but when it was taken away from me, I had no idea how to function. I’m a person who truly tries to find the positives in every situation, but last year I was struggling big time. There was something missing; I just didn’t know what at the time. All I wanted to do after this tough semester was go home for winter break and rejuvenate, but then I was presented an opportunity that I could not refuse.
I was fortunate enough to go on a week-long service trip to the Dominican Republic with 20 other student-athletes through the Georgia Tech chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Because of amazing Tech donors, I and many other student athletes were able to experience a trip of a lifetime. I thought that I was going to go to the Dominican Republic and impact children in any way that I could, but it turns out they were the ones that impacted me and it was just what I needed. They reminded me that life is not about the wins and losses even though we might get caught up in it being athletes. Rather it’s about enjoying the journey and not taking the little things for granted. There was a young boy running around on a rocky baseball field the first day without any shoes, his feet were getting all cut up but a smile never left his face. This image is what I had been searching for. He was enjoying the time he was spending on the baseball field that particular moment and not worrying about anything else. Things happen in life that we cannot control, but what we can control is the way we treat every situation that is thrown at us. I will forever be grateful for this trip that Georgia Tech afforded us and I cannot begin to express how much it changed my life for the better.
I knew there was a reason why I chose Georgia Tech four years ago, but now I can truthfully tell you there is no place like it. It is full of opportunities—athletics, academics, community service, and career development. Like I learned from the young boy in the Dominican Republic, enjoy every moment and don’t let it pass you by. There will be many lows, believe me. My time here has been a bumpy roller coaster ride, but those hard times are what get you to the very top so you can enjoy the duration of the ride. Georgia Tech is full of endless opportunities and I can’t wait to see where the rest of my journey takes me one last time this year.
My Family: I would like to thank my parents who have been by my side every step of the way through my tennis career. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their never ending support and continuous belief in me. Your hard work and commitment has gotten me to where I am today and I will never be able to thank you enough for that. My brother and sister, thank you for always being there for me every step of the way. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles – thank you for being my biggest fans!
My Teammates: I am so thankful for each and every teammate I have had in my last four years. Nothing compares to being a part of a team, especially a Yellow Jacket team. I would like to thank each and every one of you for making my time at Tech so enjoyable, never dull, and always pushing me to be a better person on and off of the court. I’m so grateful to compete with every single one of you, every single day, right by my side. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Georgia Tech Athletic Association: I would like to thank everyone who is a part of the athletic association. I wish I could name everyone that has had such a big impact on me. I would especially like to thank Amanda Brown and Christen Steele for always making sure I stay on top of my academics and always being there for occasional vent sessions. Marla Butterworth and Carla Gilson, thank you for being the best role models a girl could ask for. You have both been there with me through it all and I can’t thank you enough for that. Theresa Wenzel, thank you for being an incredible mentor throughout my time at Tech. Thank you for always doing everything you can to make me a better leader to benefit those around me as well as doing everything you can to further my career, I’m truly grateful.
Richard Stewart, Jenny Plasencia, and Katelynn Staley…I cannot begin to express how much I appreciate every single one of you. Being injured is not easy, but you were always there for me when I needed you in the training room. I’d also like to give Tierra Howard-Berry a shout out also because she gets to deal with me this year :).
Thank you to Allen & Sandra Ecker for endowing my scholarship each of the last two seasons. I am truly grateful for your contributions to the tennis program.
My Coaches: I would first like to thank my strength and conditioning coach Scott McDonald. I know that I can come and talk to you about anything at anytime and you will always be there for me. You make working out enjoyable, most of the time. You always put so much effort into making all of us better on the court, but ultimately you care about each and every one of us off the court and I am so thankful for that.
Alison Silverio, thank you for being a great assistant coach my first two years at Georgia Tech. You were always someone I could go to talk to anything about and were constantly doing anything you could to make our time more enjoyable. I will always remember all our road trips together, especially that trip to NYC :). Miss you!
Christy Lynch, thank you for always keeping things fun and interesting. I truly appreciate everything you do for us! You put everything you can into making the student athlete life at Georgia Tech more enjoyable and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank my coach Rodney Harmon. I had no idea what to expect when waiting to hear who my college coach would be, but I am grateful that it was you, Coach. You are constantly doing everything you can to do what it best for all of us. I have never met someone that knows as much about the sport as you do. You are someone that always has your door open to talk to about anything and will make me feel better about myself in a flash. My forehand thanks you for fixing it and I would just like to thank you for being a great coach and role model, I’m looking forward to our last year together!
Support student-athletes like Megan Kurey by making a gift online, or by calling the Alexander-Tharpe Fund at (404) 894-5414. Since 1949, Alexander-Tharpe Fund (A-T) has served as the primary fund-raising arm for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, bringing in gifts and commitments in excess of $22 million annually for endowment, facilities, and current operations.