Morgan Paras has come a long way. Her metamorphosis from timid underclassmen to senior leader on the women’s tennis team has been radical.
As an underclassmen, Paras did not see much action and was forced to sit on many occasions.
“I came in when she was a sophomore, and I remember the first match I coached her at,” coach Tammy Cecchini said. “She was crying. She just didn’t have enough self-confidence at the time. She rarely got to play, so when she did get to play she understood the opportunity that she had, and she put a lot of pressure on herself.”
Cecchini played a pivotal role in Paras finding herself on the court, continuously reassuring Paras that mistakes were OK and encouraging her to loosen up.
“It was fun to watch her transform from that sophomore who had no self-confidence to the senior now who just exudes confidence,” Cecchini said.
Paras played her way into the lineup her junior season, and took on an imperative leadership role as a senior, even if it was unconventional.
Paras is an elementary education major. At Valpo, each education major is required to spend their last semester student-teaching at a local school.
“Basically I’m a full-time teacher, 7-4 every single day,” Paras said. “All the lesson-planning, grading, all that is my responsibility. It does keep me busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Naturally, Paras’ time around the team was limited. But she wasn’t going to let this obstacle deter her from being a valuable member of the team and completing her tennis career on a high note.
Twice a week Paras lifted alone in the weight room at 5:30 a.m. before going to teach. Once school was dismissed, she’d rush over to practice, to which she was late every day. Cecchini worked to accommodate Paras, spending extra time hitting with her after practice would end. Despite her jam-packed schedule, she did not miss a single practice all season.
“I got very minimal sleep,” Paras said. “I got used to it though. My body got used it. It was challenging at the beginning. I’d get home sometimes at 9 (p.m.) and then stay up until midnight planning and whatnot. It could be hard at times but it also taught me a lot.”
Paras, who functioned as one of the team’s two captains, led by example and her high level of dedication served as an inspiration for all of her teammates on and off the court. A champion in the classroom and in the community, Paras achieved a 4.0 GPA last semester.
“She’s not very loud and she wasn’t here a lot, but she’s very mature and she’s definitely a leader,” Cecchini said. “She’s a silent leader that everybody respects. She just works so hard and she never complains. She’s a great role model.”
As one chapter closes, another is just beginning. Paras looks forward to being a leader in the classroom and has accepted a job as a first-grade teacher in Indianapolis beginning this fall.