We recently chatted with Julia (Grove) Morris who competed in Women’s Tennis. Julia was a three-time All Conference selection from 2002-05 who led Tiffin’s women’s tennis to the NAIA National tournament for the first time. She also led the team to the Region IX Championship. She set a record at the time with 57 singles and 57 doubles victories. She is still first in doubles victories and 4th in career singles victories. Enjoy our Q&A with Julia.
What first attracted you to Tiffin University?
For this question, it is more on “who” attracted me to TU…Coach Bonnie Tiell. She called me one evening in October of my senior year (I had just finishing a high school tennis match) to invite me to a tennis try-out and open house. At that time, playing tennis in college wasn’t even a thought nor was ever hearing of Tiffin University or considering a private school for college for that matter. I am beyond grateful for her phone call and taking a leap to go visit TU and try-out! My parents were most attracted by how personalized every one was at TU. TU offered the major I was considering and when I was offered a tennis and academic scholarship, TU rose to the top on my college list! After weighing out my college options, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love while pursuing my education at a small university.
What was your biggest challenge to overcome as an athlete/coach?
As a student-athlete, I was asked to be a co-captain during my sophomore year. The challenge was having older teammates “look up” to me, but my coaches felt that the players would value my work ethic on and off the court.
My biggest challenges came when I coached by first two years out of college while working in admissions and pursuing my MBA. Managing work and classes wasn’t the challenge, it was being a young and inexperienced coach to some student-athletes that were former teammates and friends of mine (when referring to the women’s team). In reference to assisting the men’s team, the challenge was gaining respect from some of them as a female coach. I also learned more about myself. I loved the game of tennis and could play the sport, but having to perfect another ones skills and guide them on the court was definitely challenging. They say “the grass is greener on the other side”, well in my case, “the game of tennis was different on the other side of the fence”, literally! I also learned very quickly that you are not only a coach, you are a parent and confidant. And to conclude the list of challenges I ran into as a coach, when coaching the women’s team, we were in a transition year of no longer being in the NAIA and not yet in the GLIAC, so we had a lot of scheduled matches, but we didn’t have a conference goal to strive for since we were not in one that year. So, that was difficult to keep the team moral up. I scheduled several GLIAC teams, which was a good preview to show them that this conference will have strong competition for the years ahead!
What do you feel was the highlight of your athletic playing/coaching career?
By far the best highlight of my tennis career at TU, was my senior year (2006). Our team won the NAIA Regional Championship and advanced to Nationals in Mobile, Alabama! This was the first time in TU women tennis history to advance this far. I think for all of us, it was a surreal time. During our regional matches, we took each match in stride and remained humble throughout. It was an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment for all of us! Even though we did not advance at Nationals, it was incredible to play some amazingly talented players from other schools.
Who were some of your closest friends/associates from your playing/coaching career?
Teammates/friends/co-captains/captains/assistant coaches- Clara (Ramirez) Kassner, Ale (Sosa) Parbhoo, Kelly (Monnier) Kerg, Faith Greenawalt, Nicole Zwick, Dena (Haehn) Wireman, Vicki Woods; Wynter (Toland) Burt, Laura Jeanblanc, Erika McShay, and Kristin Gibson
Who were some key coaches/administrators that helped you during that period?
Former Coaches Bonnie Tiell and Jan Feasel
Former Athletic Director – Ian Day
Former Men’s Tennis Coach – Patrick Ortner
Former Director of Admissions – Jeremy Marinis
Who do you feel had the biggest influence in helping you achieve success on and/or off the field?
Most importantly, my parents John and Debbie Grove.
Coach Jan Feasel and Coach/Professor Dr. Bonnie Tiell
Academically- Professor Teresa Miller, Dr. Perry Hahn, and Dr. N. Ghosh
Work experience as a student ambassador and telecounselor in Undergraduate Admissions- Cam Cruickshank, Tyson Pinion, Dawn Shores, and Clara Ramirez Kassner
What was the most important thing you learned during your time at TU?
The most important thing I learned at TU besides my education would be the value of relationships, friendship, and working with diverse people. That may be a value you can learn anywhere, but I feel that the people I crossed paths with at TU truly made my 6 years there a remarkable experience. And although, I may not see all of those I established relationships with whether that was through classes, work, or tennis as often as I would like, I am grateful for the memories created and the new relationships I have gained over the years with others.
How have you used your Tiffin University experience in your post-collegiate career?
I have continued to work in higher education ever since I graduated from TU. A career path that I didn’t even have in mind when I first started college! Which this circles back to not having college tennis in mind when in high school, oh how the doors open! My first two years were in undergraduate admissions at TU in a variety of positions from recruiting central and southeast Ohio students to managing international applicant processes along with assisting the men’s tennis team and concluding as coach of the women’s team before joining The Ohio State University ATI campus. For over 9 years I was an Admissions Counselor at Ohio State ATI and most recently am the Coordinator of Student Financial Aid for our campus. The skills and work-ethic I gained from my academics, collegiate-athletic experience, and work experiences in undergraduate admissions have provided the foundations I needed to succeed in assisting students and families in the college admission and financial aid processes throughout my career.