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Young welcomes senior leadership role

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | FEBRUARY 09, 2011 7:10 AM

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Jessica Young has been through a lot.

The senior women’s tennis player endured a coaching change last season and a season-ending injury three years ago. Her experiences have helped her learn to become a leader.

After being a two-time All-American in high school at Seaholm in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Young has started for the Hawkeyes since she was a freshman. The previous coach left in October of Young’s junior year, forcing her into a leadership role earlier than expected.

However, her relationship with current head coach Katie Dougherty has helped her learn what it means to be a leader.

“[Leadership] takes confidence; it takes a lot of discipline,” Young said. “You want to react a certain way, which may be negative, but you realize others are looking up to you, and they may think they can get away with that. You have to bring yourself back, calm down, and make sure you are in control of your reactions.”



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Young is Iowa’s No. 2 singles player and is one of three seniors on a squad of only eight players. She called herself a naturally outgoing person — one who tries to make people feel as if they can come to her for anything.

On top of being a vocal leader, leading by example is the other key for Young.

“She helps people out if they need something, and she is good at getting people going on the right track,” assistant coach Jesse Medvene-Collins said. “She comes in, works hard, and fights every day, which is a great example, and I think that rubs off on everyone. I think the girls look to her for energy during a match.”

Becoming a leader did not come easily for Young; it has been a process. The team’s leaders are expected to act a certain way, and sometimes it’s difficult to block out emotions.

“I get stressed out easily,” Young said. “Sometimes I get wrapped up in my emotions, and on the court, I get caught up in the moment. I’ve been working on staying positive throughout the whole match while staying level-headed.”

Young talked about the difficult transition to college and how important it was getting the freshmen involved early. Freshman Jessica Cohen was unique in the fact that she made her transition this past month to college from Paris, but she said Young and the other seniors made her transition easier.

Young said she feels that every woman on the team is somewhat of a leader. Despite the freshmen’s lack of experience, she said each woman gives the Hawkeyes “a special quality.”

But she welcomes a bigger leadership role, one her coaches feel she is well-equipped for.

“She knows the program,” Medvene-Collins said. “She knows what it’s like to be a Division-I athlete, she knows the pressures — the good and the bad.”


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