Student Athlete Spotlight: Marshall Danner and Collier Griffin

With a talented group of athletes, top-notch coaches, and beautiful new tennis courts on which to play, FPD’s tennis teams have been blessed with a terrific season. At the time of this blog post, the boys were 12 – 1 and the girls were 11 – 2, with several matches on the horizon. We wanted to touch base with a couple of the Vikings – Marshall Danner, the team captain, and Collier Griffin, the leading Lady Vikings tennis player.

When did you start playing tennis?:

Marshall – I began taking tennis lessons with my friends when I was about four years old. I began wanting to get better and considering it as my main sport when I was about nine or ten years old.

Collier – I started playing tennis when I was around 8 years old so I have been playing for almost 10 years!

Marshall, as team captain, what is your role?

As captain, I do my best to be a leader to everyone else on the team. I try to help them develop different aspects of their game and encourage them to keep training and get better every day they practice. I also do my best to make sure that the tennis team feels less like just a high school team and more like a family.

Collier, what is your favorite Bible verse and how does that relate to the tennis team?

My favorite bible verse regarding sports is Colossians 3:23-24 which says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  This is a special verse because it serves as a reminder that we are serving and honoring God through tennis. It can be easy to lose sight of what is important but this verse shows the team the real reason we are playing. We should play with all our hearts because we are serving the Lord with the talents with which he has blessed us.

To what do you attribute the team’s success this year?

Marshall – I attribute the success of both teams to how hard we train in practice as well as our knowledge of how to play tennis successfully. Through great coaching as well as our individual experiences in playing matches, we are able to develop strategies to make the shots we need to in order to win. I also think our past losses and mistakes drive us to do better each and every day, and to make up for whatever mistakes we made in previous seasons.

Collier – So far, the team has had an awesome season. Our success comes from all the hard work each of us has put in to prepare for the season, as well as all the coaching help we have had. We have two amazing coaches, Coach Lashley and Coach Danner. They have motivated us to try our best and work hard for the team.

What are your goals or thoughts for the rest of the season?

Marshall – For the rest of the season, I want our team to grow even closer and play even smarter than we already have. I want both of our teams to do really well in both the area and state tournaments, and the only way we will be able to accomplish that is by focusing on getting better right now. Personally, I want to become a greater leader for the team, especially as my time on this team is quickly coming to a close.

Collier – As a senior, the rest of the season is bittersweet. I am excited to finish strong with the team but also sad that my career is coming to an end. I have been a part of FPD tennis since I was in 6th grade and it will be sad to leave it behind. My goals for the team are to win the rest of our matches and make a run in the state tournament. My personal goals are to always fight to the very end in every match, but most importantly, always be humble and kind whether I win or lose.

What would you say to younger student-athletes considering tennis?

Marshall –  For any younger students who are considering playing tennis, I’d tell them that choosing to pursue playing tennis was one of the greatest decisions of my life. It is not only a fun sport that you can play for basically the rest of your life, but it also has taught me so many things and has helped me to become the man I am today. I’d strongly encourage anyone considering playing tennis to pick up a racquet and learn how to play.

Collier – To the younger students who are considering playing tennis,  I would definitely say go for it because it is a great sport that you can play for life. It teaches you how to handle adversity and overcome obstacles which is a great life lesson. Also, it is a lot of fun to hang out with the team before and after matches. We have so much fun going to team dinners and other activities that help us bond!