When women's tennis team captain Tory Schroeder ('97) walked across the commencement stage this spring, she left behind more than a record of wins and losses. The winning record of this two-time Colonial Athletic Association Scholar Athlete has extended beyond the classroom and even campus itself.
Schroeder, while balancing the demands of academics, social activities, practices, traveling and games, has also managed to make a lasting - and professional - impact on the city she has called home for the last four years.
Last summer, while interning at the Harrisonburg Free Clinic, Schroeder wrote a proposal and won a $10,793 grant from the Avon Breast Health Access Fund. The grant is funding a program that last fall began to educate low-income women in the community about breast cancer and to promote awareness and early detection.
A health sciences major, Schroeder wrote the grant proposal during an internship at the clinic, which she had heard about while writing a paper on clinics for a community health course. The internship, required of all JMU health science majors, called for 40 hours of work a week for eight weeks. Unable to take on that much extra responsibility during the tennis season, Schroeder chose instead to spend her two tennis-free summer months fulfilling the requirement.
"I learned a lot about free clinics for my paper and I liked the mission of the one here - to help people without health insurance," Schroeder says. "I did various projects during the internship, but the grant was the biggest thing I worked on."
The significance of the grant will play out among the hundreds of low-income women who will benefit from it. But for Schroeder, according to the clinic's Executive Director Doris Showalter, the successful grant proposal was a professional-level accomplishment.
gained her a spot on USA Today Online's College Sports Page
USA Today Online's
College Sports Page
as a 'Positive Performer.'
"This proposal was Tory's baby," Showalter says. "I submitted a proposal last year that was rejected, so for her to come in here and create a proposal that was awarded the money is truly amazing."
The program in place now at the clinic includes educational sessions open to all Harrisonburg women and mammograms and clinical breast exams for low-income residents more than 50 years old.
Schroeder, who held the No. 1 spot on the tennis team in both singles and doubles competition, did all the research for the proposal on her own, with Showalter as an adviser.
"I was happy with the work I'd done," Schroeder says. "But since I didn't know anything about the competition, I had no idea if it would be funded."
While Schroeder remains modest about her accomplishment, Showalter's praise of her former intern is unqualified.
"Everyone fell in love with Tory," Showalter says. "Because she's so quiet it's easy to underestimate her potential, but wow, you better watch out. She's quite a gal."
Quite a gal, JMU head tennis coach Maria Malerba agrees. "Tory was the hardest-working player on the team and always put the team ahead of herself. That's why she was voted team captain," Malerba says.
Unlike most collegiate sports, where athletes compete for a season and train on their own in the off-season, tennis has two seasons - a fall season that has approximately five tournaments and a spring season that consists of 20 to 25 dual matches. As is the case with many student-athletes, Schroeder has struggled to balance the extensive traveling required by her sport with her desire to excel in the classroom. However, she seems to have found the secret to the balancing act and has maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average throughout her college career.
"I've learned how to get things done when I know they need to be done," Schroeder says.
After the grant was submitted, Schroeder was once again able to devote herself primarily to her team and her studies. After three years at the No. 1 doubles spot, Schroeder and her partner Karen Piorkowski scored the biggest win in JMU history last fall when they defeated their 11th-ranked College of William and Mary opponents to earn a spot among the national rankings. Having finished the fall season 10-2, the doubles team entered the 1997 spring season ranked 49th in doubles nationally and 11th in the East region.
"Karen and I have been together three years," Schroeder says. "It wasn't until last year that we really started coming together - we finally reached our full potential."
Putting personal goals second is something that Malerba has come to expect from her star.
"You could spend an hour talking to Tory, and she wouldn't say she was on the tennis team, let alone talk about how well she's done," she says. "She always puts the interests of the team ahead of herself. She's a coaches' dream."
The recognition that Schroeder won't receive for the clinic's new cancer awareness and prevention program suits her fine. The young woman who has starred on the tennis court and in the classroom is satisfied knowing that the program she left behind could save lives.
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