Athlete of the Week: Women’s tennis player wins prestigious award

Danielle Calbeck wins the 2011 Women’s Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award.


RobertRay Photography

Biola’s Athlete of the week is women’s tennis teammate Danielle Calbeck. | Photo courtesy of Biola Athletics.

Conner Penfold, Writer

Women’s tennis head coach Dee Henry pulled senior Danielle Calbeck aside last week and gave her the responsibility of being the leader of a young team. This opportunity arose from more than just her senior status.

Being a leader on and off the court

Calbeck closed out her junior year with a bang when she won the 2011 Women’s Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award, a prestigious title given annually by the International Tennis Association to a collegiate tennis player who exhibits outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.

“My coach wrote in a little response about me to nominate me for the award and so then I in turn had to write a response about what I’ve done and just a little bit about me,” Calbeck said, describing the process by which she applied for the award.

There was great reasoning behind Henry’s nomination of Calbeck. Her actions off the tennis court certainly displayed character and service deserving of recognition.

During the summer Calbeck returns to her hometown of Walnut Creek, Calif. where she helps the girls from her high school develop their own tennis skills. While on campus, Calbeck, along with the rest of the team, hosts an annual Campus Kids Day event, allowing kids from the local community to compete in drills and games taught by the team. Calbeck also throroughly enjoys hosting other on-campus events with patients from the Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange.

“I love working with kids and doing service,” Calbeck said. “But I feel like being on a team has pushed me to do service in a different way.”

Hurricane Irene cancels ceremony

Calbeck has represented the tennis team for three years in Biola Athletic Ministries. This ministry focuses on keeping Biola’s athletes spiritually accountable.

Receiving the Arthur Ashe award meant going to New York City with other recipients to retrieve it. Although Hurricane Irene cancelled the entirety of the planned award ceremonies, there was a silver lining before retreating back to La Mirada to begin her senior year.

“I was with my family and we got to see New York and my dad got us tickets to the US Open,” Calbeck said, excited at the opportunity to see professional tennis players in person.

“I never thought I’d be able to go to the US Open. It was such a blessing.”

More than teammates

Calbeck will lead the tennis team in her final year of eligibility. She expects great things out of the sophomores, who gained highly beneficial experience last season, but more than anything, Calbeck looks forward to her last year with a team whose chemistry and camaraderie are at its highest. The team finished last season with a 3-20 record, but the quality of this team goes deeper than the win-loss column.

“Every year I feel like the group of girls has gotten better and better and so I’m super excited to grow closer to them,” she said. “We are like best friends now.”

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