Leadership On and Off the Court
October 17, 2013
Here is something that I pray encourages each of you.
“Z” , Emily Zabor, loves Jesus and has her priorities straight and even more importantly, is not ashamed or shy to share them.
Thankful to be part of the team who indeed desires to “train up a child in the way she should go, so when she is old, she will not depart from it.”
This article appeared in the University of Alabama Crimson White publication:
Standing in the sun on a warm October afternoon, women’s tennis coach Jenny Mainz gets chills while she talks about junior Emily Zabor.
“When I recruited Emily Zabor – look at the hair on my arm – I recruited her because [of] the way she carried herself,” Mainz said. “I watched her win matches, and I watched her lose matches. It’s because of the way she carried herself consistently. It didn’t matter if she was winning or losing, she’s the same person. She’s just out there trying to figure things out and find solutions and get better. She is an extraordinary person.”
To Mainz, Zabor’s demeanor is an essential part of the leadership role that the athlete will occupy as one of only two upperclassmen on the team. Both coach and athlete have high expectations for the upcoming year, and Zabor’s leadership and the entire team’s preparation will be put to the test when the team travels to Auburn over the weekend for the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships.
“I’ve set big goals for this year, but you always have to have the little goals leading up to that to help,” Zabor said. “A goal for me is winning regionals. I want to do that and make a statement, not for me, but for the team.”
Zabor clearly has lofty goals both on and off the court. A recipient of the NCAA Elite 89 for athletic and academic achievement, Zabor maintains a high GPA in pursuit of a marketing degree and is heavily involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and missionary activities, all while driving herself to improve on the courts.
Zabor said she takes lessons from every aspect of her life – athletics, school, faith – into the other arenas.
“[Faith, academics and tennis] all overlap for me. With academics, with tennis, giving as much as you can so you can get out as much as you can. With my faith – that’s the groundwork for everything.”
Rather than seeing Zabor’s focus on other activities as a detriment, Mainz thinks Zabor’s leadership skills are directly tied to the other parts of her life.
“Emily Zabor is the epitome of a team player. She is the most unselfish player I have ever coached.” Mainz said. “She has tremendous leadership capabilities, and the reason why is because she’s such a strong person. Her moral code of ethics is unwavering. She has an extremely strong faith, she believes in herself, she believes in her abilities and she believes in other people around her. Her positivity is infectious. … She wants to serve others.”
Mainz might have summed up all of Zabor’s goals in one: serving others. Zabor relishes her role as a leader, both as a tool to improve herself and an opportunity to help those around her.
“You’re only given four years, so you’ve got to do something with it.” Zabor said. “Success for me isn’t a 4.0. Success for me isn’t winning NCAAs. Success is: Am I glorifying the Lord? Am I reaching out to others? With what’s presented to me, how am I helping others and making the world better?”
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