The ITA announced today that Emily Mae Schmid of the University of Notre Dame and Mia Lancaster of the University of Oklahoma have been selected as the 2014 Wilson/ITA National Promoter of the Year Award winners. Both Emily and Mia will receive a paid summer internship to work at Wilson's global headquarters in Chicago, Illinois in its Grassroots Marking department.
The Wilson/ITA National Promoter of the Year Award recognizes individuals who promote the game of tennis at the collegiate level by devoting consistent time and effort to promotional activities and who support and bring awareness to either their school program or to the sport in general.
Schmid, a senior at the University of Notre Dame, has served as team manager of the University of Notre Dame Men's Tennis Team since December 2011, and was eventually promoted to Senior Manager. She worked extensively with coaches and student-athletes and her responsibilities included organizing matches and practices, including nutrition needs and equipment.
In addition to her work with the Notre Dame men's team, Schmid also worked as Manager of Tennis Operations at the Knollwood Country Club, where she organized USTA matches, private lessons, children's camps and tournaments.
Before she started working with the men's tennis team, Schmid admitted she knew nothing about tennis. "My favorite part of working with the Notre Dame men's tennis team, besides getting to know the team of course, has been being introduced to the game of tennis. Since then, I have become a huge fan and have even learned to play. It has been a truly invaluable experience, but if I had to pick one thing it would be the opportunity to learn about the sport from the most amazing people through the coaches and players I've worked with over the past three seasons," she said.
A native of Granger, Indiana, Schmid will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Notre Dame in spring 2014. She was "filled with joy and pride" when learning she'd won the 2014 Wilson/ITA National Promoter of the Year Award.
"I was so happy to hear that I had won the award," Schmid said. "It meant so much to me that my coaches nominated me, and I was really proud of myself for succeeding in the application process to demonstrate what being a tennis manager really means to me. I've known for a long time that I want to work in athletics but I have really grown to love tennis over the past three years. This internship provides the opportunity to both build a career and work at something I truly care about."
Lancaster, a senior at the University of Oklahoma, has been a member of the women's tennis team for four years, competing in both singles and doubles. With partner Whitney Ritchie, Lancaster won the 2013 USTA/ITA Central Region Doubles Championships, and the duo competed in the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships.
Lancaster has not only competed for four years on the court, but she's also been a key promoter of her team's home matches. She's been a driving force in promoting college tennis on campus and around the community.
"Before each spring season, I coordinate with the Oklahoma Athletics Marketing Department regarding the design and distribution plan for flyers and posters," Lancaster said. "I work with my teammates and we split up areas around campus and even off campus to put up our posters. This seems to be really effective because I have a lot of people come up to me saying 'I saw your poster and we are coming to your next match!'"
"It's up to us players to promote our sport," she added. "It makes a big difference when you have a big crowd cheering you on. Each year we try and come up with new ways to promote our matches and we have been pretty successful because we have gotten more fans each season."
During her time at the University of Oklahoma, Lancaster has spent time exposing more kids to tennis through her work coaching as part of the Community After School Program (CASP) Be Fit Club in the Norman Elementary School District and the First Serve Summer Tennis Camp for inner city children in Oklahoma City. She said her time at the summer camp was especially gratifying.
"It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had," Lancaster said. "This camp was the highlight of these kids' summer and I got to be a part of it. The focus wasn't necessarily on how good they were getting, but more on teaching them the game and having fun while doing it. I had the best group of girls. They made me laugh so hard and taught me a lot. I hope to get involved with this camp again in the future."
Lancaster said she was excited to apply for the 2014 Wilson/ITA National Promoter of the Year Award but was shocked to win. "I wasn't really expecting to get it, so when I got the call that I had won I was really shocked and definitely very, very excited! Wilson is the premier business in the tennis world and I knew working for them would be an amazing opportunity. I don't really know what to expect but I am really looking forward to working at their headquarters and being able to see what goes on a day-to-day basis as Wilson. I am really excited for all of it!"
"Our congratulations to Emily and Mia," David A Benjamin, Executive Director of the ITA, said. "This unique Wilson/ITA National Promoter of the Year Award presents a wonderful opportunity for students to be recognized for their promotional efforts of their varsity tennis programs and tennis in general. Emily and Mia have both been outstanding in their efforts to promote collegiate tennis, and this award will provide them with a great experience as summer interns with Wilson Sporting Goods, a leader in the tennis industry."
"Congratulations to Emily and Mia for being selected as the 2014 Wilson/ITA Promoter of the Year," said Cy Dofitas, US Grassroots Manager - Racquet Sports at Wilson Sporting Goods, Co. "Wilson is very excited to welcome two such deserving recipients to our global headquarters and we are committed to making this summer's internship an experience of a lifetime."
About the ITA : As the governing body of collegiate tennis, the ITA promotes both the athletic and academic achievements of the collegiate tennis community. The ITA, which is comprised of nearly 1,700 men's and women's varsity coaches representing over 1,200 institutions, administers numerous regional and national championships and the ITA College Tennis Rankings for over 15,000 college varsity student-athletes at the NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior College levels. The ITA also has a comprehensive awards program for players and coaches to honor excellence in academics, leadership and sportsmanship. The official ITA website is www.itatennis.com.
About Wilson Racquet Sports: Wilson Racquet Sports is a division of Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods, one of the world's leading manufacturers of sports equipment and owned by Amer Sports. Wilson designs, manufactures and distributes sporting goods throughout the world and focuses on making technologically advanced products which help players of all levels perform better. Wilson's core sport categories include: Football, Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, Soccer, Youth Sports, Uniforms/Apparel, Golf, Footwear and Racquet Sports (Tennis, Racquetball, Squash, Badminton and Platform Tennis). For more information, visit www.wilson.com.