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Penn College women’s tennis player looks to future

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Shock. Dismay. Anger. Pennsylvania College of Technology spring sports athletes experienced myriad emotions March 12 when it was announced that their seasons had been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is the fifth in a series on the reactions of student-athletes whose careers or season was cut short.)

Alexis Youse views this spring’s women’s tennis season as unfinished business. Fortunately, as a sophomore dual-majoring in baking and pastry arts and applied management, she is among those who will get another shot next year.

Youse played on the varsity tennis team at Pottsgrove High School and said she chose to attend Penn College because of “the vast opportunities that the college has to offer. These opportunities include being able to work at the Kentucky Derby, the large Career Fairs, a wide range of clubs and sports, and many more opportunities that would help me gain connections and even friendships.”

But when it came to trying out for the tennis team, she had reservations.

“I made sure to practice before attending. Walking onto the courts for the first time was very nerve-wracking for me because I had no clue what to expect. I kept thinking I wouldn’t be good enough, but by the end of tryouts, I had made it on the team and I was excited to start,” Youse said.

“If I were to look back at my high school career, I would have told you that I was not good enough to play for a college but here I am today. I have improved greatly and still am working to get better,” she said. “There are many skills that I need to enhance but my determination and passion for the sport and to improve will always be with me.

“You could say my freshman year was a trial run for me. Like I had said before, I had no clue what to expect when it came to college sports. (My) freshman year was hard at times, but I started to get the hang of things. Now I am in my sophomore year and in the fall I had come in with goals on improving my skill set so that when spring came around I was ready to give my matches my all. I wanted so badly to win a few matches and be able to attend the NEAC Championships.”

Teamwise, the Wildcats were coming off a 1-4 fall season and dropped their only “spring” match in February. Yet Youse was hopeful.

“I felt that our team was ready for this season. We had gotten a new coach (Jessica Bower) and at this point, we were all comfortable and had adjusted to how things had changed. My whole team was excited to see where this year would take us. We all got matching practice uniforms and were thinking of fundraising and community service ideas that we can no longer participate in anymore with the recent pandemic,” she said.

Recalling the day she learned that the rest of the season had been canceled, Youse said, “I had received an email from our coach saying how we probably have already heard that the season was canceled, but I had not heard of it until that email. My first reaction was just a little bummed out that I won’t be able to play until the fall, but my true feelings about it all didn’t hit me until recently.

“I miss my team members and being able to see them just about every day to do something we all enjoyed. My team knew the times to have fun and the times to be serious but there was never a practice that didn’t have me laughing by the end of it. Going to tennis every night was never a burden, it was something I looked forward to at the end of all my classes. I’m sure we all had personal goals we wanted to complete this year, and it upsets me now thinking that we won’t be able to finish them, but I know that next year we will be even more prepared for what’s to come.

“So far, my time at Penn College has been a roller coaster, in all honesty, but I haven’t given up and don’t plan to. In fact, I didn’t want to give up school or my tennis team. Starting school here I was only a two-year major but recently I chose to dual-major and stay for another two years even though I had planned on doing my second degree online back at home. I was not ready to leave tennis or this school in my past because I have created a family with my team, and I couldn’t leave them without making more memories.

“It has been an honor to be known as a Penn College Wildcat. I have made many friendships and memories over the past two years. Being a Wildcat has taught me many things as well, one being time management.”

Looking ahead, Youse said, “Even though this season was canceled, we still should practice over these next few months so that when we come back in the fall, we will ready for anything.”

And to potential future Wildcats, she said, “I would tell them to apply. I was nervous to join a sport while taking college courses but the school offers so much help for you to maintain good grades while participating in a sport. They have the tutoring and writing center for people who need a little help and the library has late hours in case you need to finish up a few assignments that had been procrastinated.

“Not only are there places around campus that can help but my coach is so understanding. She knows that school is first and that if you need to miss practice due to homework or a test coming up, she understands and hopes the best for the students of our team.”

Youse’s advice to fellow students through this difficult time is “don’t give up. For me, this pandemic has been hard. Online classes are very hard for me to complete or even understand but just hang in there, hopefully, soon things will start to return to normal. If you have a friend or know somebody struggling, help them out because now, more than ever, we need to come together and support each other.”

For Youse, graduation still is a couple of years down the road but she has big plans.

“I hope to travel the world and learn as much of it as I can. Then once traveling has been halted, I would like to own my own 50s-retro ice cream parlor. It has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and the chefs at this school have helped me create a mock business plan, which means I’m already one step closer,” she said.

Nike, BSN Sports sponsorship extended
Penn College announced Wednesday that it has entered into a multi-year partnership with Nike through BSN Sports to continue to make Nike  the official apparel of Wildcat Athletics. BSN also will serve as the official equipment provider. The agreement, which will commence July 1, is part of BSN Sports Collegiate Select program, which aims to make BSN Sports a one-stop provider for all collegiate athletic, intramural, club and staff apparel and equipment to all DI, DII, DIII, NJCAA and NAIA schools.

Nike has been the official apparel of Penn College Athletics since 2014.

“We are very excited and grateful to continue our outstanding relationship with BSN Sports and their incredible staff. This agreement paves the way to further enhance our department and have a positive impact our student-athletes’ experience,” Penn College Director of Athletics John Vandevere said. “From Todd Northrop, Larry Singer and Kevin Steele, we have had an amazing experience working with BSN and it was an easy decision to extend this relationship. They truly value the customer and we cannot be happier with their service and products.”

Nike will serve as the exclusive outfitter for all 16 Penn College intercollegiate sports teams. The multi-year agreement includes numerous incentives in the form of discounts and rewards along with incentives for on-field achievements and additional marketing and promotional opportunities.

BSN also will be the host of Penn College’s online athletics store, which is expected to launch in May.

SCHEDULE/RECORDS/RESULTS
Baseball
Final overall: 5-5
NEAC: 0-0
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Softball
Final overall: 5-4
NEAC: 0-0
Spring Break Tournament at Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Archery
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Women’s Tennis
Final overall: 1-5 (1-4 fall season)
NEAC: 0-0
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Men’s Tennis
Final overall: 1-5 (1-4 fall season)
NEAC: 0-0
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Golf
Spring season canceled, coronavirus

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 37