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Star Over Trinity

Marney Babbitt (second from right), President and Founder of the Trinity University
Club Tennis Team, hangs out with her teammates on one of Trinity's 16 tennis courts.
Trinity University senior Marney Babbitt knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she started the Trinity Club Tennis Team in the fall of 2006.  As the sole captain of the Trinity women's Water Polo Club, couple with the duties of being a resident advisor, a lifeguard, and a babysitter - and a massive 19 credit hours for school - her time was already stretched to the limit.  But it was her love of tennis that trumped all else and led this dynamic leader to start Trinity's Tennis On Campus program.

Trinity, a Texas university with 2,500 students and very successful Division III men's and women's varsity tennis programs, did not offer an easy path.  At Trinity, all recreational sports activities are run through the Athletic Department.  When Babbitt approached the department about starting a tennis club, she encountered a rule the school had in place that would not allow a club sport to be formed if Trinity offered the same sport on the varsity level.  But with 16 accessible tennis courts on campus and a large demand from her fellow students, Babbitt was still determined to make the club a reality.

Partnering with classmate Zach Noblitt, Babbitt garnered the full support of Trinity's Associate Athletic Director for Recreational Sports, Jacob Tingle, and the men's and women's varsity tennis coach, Butch Newman.  With those two in her corner, she approached the only person on campus that held the power to make an exception to the rule - Trinity Athletic Director Bob King.  With no facility conflicts, the backing of Noblitt, Newman, and the USTA, great student leadership and a large demand for the club by students (roughly 40 in the early stages), it was an easy decision to grant the club a probationary first year, after which its success and future would be reevaluated for full club sport status.

That was all Babbitt and the club needed, and they haven't looked back since.  The Trinity Club Tennis Team, now in its second year, has quickly jumped into the lead as Trinity's largest club sport, with more than 60 students and growing.  The team has attended five USTA Texas Regional Events and was named the 2007 USTA Texas Club Tennis Team of the Year.

"We had a very successful first year.  Not necessarily defined by our wins and losses, but by how much fun we had," says Babbitt.  "Many of the club tennis leaders in Texas were very helpful, especially George Chen from UT.  We really feel like we're doing good things at Trinity and will continue to be a successful club in the future."

Indeed, good things are happening for campus life through tennis at Trinity.  Between the new club tennis team, the varsity tennis teams, and several tennis classes, more than 20 percent of the student body at Trinity is involved in tennis.

"The increase in participation numbers in just two years is an amazing thing to see," says Tingle.  "It really showed that there was a need for this club and that if you put the right student leadership in place good things will happen."

The impact that Babbitt has had on tennis at Trinity hasn't gone unrecognized.  A strong and passionate student leader, she was recently asked to sit on a guest panel during the Tennis On Campus session of the 2007 USTA Staff Training in Destin, Fla.

"Marney is the kind of student leader that we want to showcase," says Glenn Arrington, USTA National Manager, Collegiate Tennis.  "She is passionate about tennis and has taken an active role to grow the game on her campus.  We're very fortunate to have her as part of the Tennis On Campus program."

Tingle adds, "Marney has been phenomenal.  She is one of those special students that doesn't come around very often.  But when they do, it's like a bright star that makes the whole department better."