On one side, Courtney Guice is a talented tennis player, still dedicated to the sport even after a painful past. On the other side, Courtney devotes her time to those currently serving the front lines of an agonizing pandemic. All the while, this sophomore is committed to continuing her education, and she’s afforded the flexibility to play, serve, and learn by attending Laurel Springs.
On the Court
On a court at the River Run Country Club in Davidson, North Carolina, Courtney’s mom introduced her to tennis. Courtney was in second grade when she started private lessons, and she stuck with it because “the head tennis pro had a gregarious love of tennis that was infectious to kids as well as adults. His fun spirit and enthusiasm rubbed off…”
The love of tennis runs in the family. “My grandparents were thrilled that I had embraced their favorite sport; my grandfather played the fourth spot for Virginia Tech, and my grandmother’s tennis team represented the state of Virginia at the USTA national championship three times in Palm Springs.”
Then, in the summer before Courtney would start seventh grade, everything changed. While training at Smith Stearns Tennis Academy in Hilton Head, she felt a pain in her left hip. Over the next few months it had spread to every joint. Now it’s been three years since she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, but she hasn’t let this opponent win. “Abruptly losing your health makes you appreciate the little things that we all take for granted. I’ve been blessed to have amazing doctors that could treat the disease, so I can once again play tennis.” While some may take a diagnosis as a deterrent for following their dreams, Courtney has taken the opposite stance. “Sitting out for over two years intensified my desire, passion for the game and my competitive spirit has kicked into gear more than ever.”
In the Field
As one who’s experienced hardship and who has a fervent drive to support others, it’s only natural Courtney takes her influential potential very seriously. As reports of COVID-19 began to take over the news, Courtney began to think of ways to give back, even while in quarantine. Her focus shifted to the front lines, where first responders and medical staff selflessly fought to save the lives of patients, even if it meant leaving their own families in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. “My idea…was to provide a meal from a local mom/pop or national chain restaurant with a gift card inserted into a water bottle and a letter with words of encouragement to healthcare providers working in the ICU department in Charlotte, NC hospitals.” Thus, Meals 4 Medical Angels was born.
Through this organization, Courtney not only wants to support those risking their lives to save others, but also bolster the hard-hit restaurant business. While the large food chains may not be struggling as much as the local businesses, Courtney sees this as an opportunity for those to step up if financially able. “To date, I have partnered with Roots, Bad Daddy’s, Red Rocks, and Mac’s Speed Shop.” These restaurants have donated hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards to the cause, and Courtney continues to reach out to other businesses in the area. She’s also enlisted the help of family, friends, and the community by starting a GoFundMe to further finance her efforts. “My long term goal is to turn Meals 4 Medical Angels into a non-profit organization that will continue to provide meals to nurses, doctors, first responders throughout the medical field especially the ER, oncology, and pediatric ICU.”
Starting this organization has been more than just a way for Courtney to help give back. It’s been a crash course in opening her own small business. From creating the framework to reaching out to corporate leaders, Courtney’s own leadership steadily strengthens. “Each day my professional communication skills improve as I call corporate executives to promote and gather local support for the organization.” She was even featured on her local news because of her efforts.
Beyond the Classroom
Between the tennis court and the front lines, Courtney continues to learn and grow with each new experience, but she still hasn’t lost sight of her educational goals. “Laurel Springs has been a great fit academically with challenging classes with a flexible schedule which allows me to attend 6-7 hours of daily tennis academy. If you have a question or need help on assignments, teachers get back to you quickly.”
Now she’s hoping for a quick return to tennis practice, endurance training, tournaments, and friends. “My goal…[is] to play collegiate tennis at the D1 level. I would love to follow in my grandad’s footsteps and study pre-med and play on Virginia Tech’s tennis team.” What better way to tie her two passions together. If you’re looking for ways to get involved, check out the Meals 4 Medical Angels website, and feel free to send handwritten letters of encouragement for medical workers to be added to the water bottles Courtney collects for this cause.