University of Southern Maine Picks Clare Winner in Colburn
DAMARISCOTTA, ME - The University of Southern Maine (USM) is gaining something truly special with incoming freshman, Clare Colburn. The recent Lincoln Academy graduate has grown into a natural leader both on the tennis courts and off, and it’s largely thanks to her small community of Damariscotta, ME.
Colburn will be attending USM this fall and playing on the tennis team, and to get her started on that journey, the USTA Foundation selected her as one of 18 National Nora McNeely Hurley Leadership Award winners to receive a $20,000 scholarship.
“I applied to the scholarship in hopes of earning maybe $500 because anything helps, but $20,000 dollars was a very big surprise,” Colburn said. “I feel grateful and honored to represent my tennis community by earning this scholarship, and I hope other girls from my team will step up and apply for this award. Our girls are some of the most well rounded athletes who are passionate about an array of things including tennis,”
Throughout her playing career, Colburn competed in USTA junior tournaments and Junior Team Tennis, but it was on her high school team where she left her mark. She served as captain for two seasons, an experience she put her heart and soul into and one she hopes will pay dividends in the future.
“During this season, I really kicked it into high gear as a captain. I feel that it is so important to give your students the same kind of experience that you want, so by coaching with that mindset, everyone can be treated on the same plane,” she said. “I want to eventually start coaching because I believe tennis should be fun and inclusive, while also having elements of hard work and personal leadership. I hope to bring others the joy that tennis brings me in a manner that accepts anyone.”
Colburn attended her first coaching workshop in July – USTA’s L1 Workshop at Salve Regina University. She and 16 other aspiring coaches spent two days on court learning about coaching principles and building skills to teach beginner to low intermediate players of all ages. This is the first step to becoming a certified L1 coach.
“The workshop was a great experience and taught me new skills including lesson planning and training for any circumstance that may arise. I took the workshop as an opportunity to coach in the future or help out in different communities wherever I may end up in life,” Colburn said.
While the USTA L1 Workshop was her first “official” coaching clinic, Colburn has gained valuable leadership experience through volunteer and mentorship efforts. She has spent countless hours since the seventh grade working with young children at the Central Lincoln County YMCA.
From assisting after school with red ball players to volunteering with ACEing Autism and even putting together art kits for the Y’s Stay and Play program to benefit families in the community, Colburn truly understands the meaning of service.
“I volunteer for these organizations not in hopes of winning awards or boosting my resume, but to give back to my tennis community and to the coaches who have guided me over the years,” Colburn said.
“Members of the Y and my community, including Cinda Holbach, Lisa Gilbride and Georgia Alhers, have been there for me most of my life. Cinda was my mentor from ages 6-14, and she certainly taught me grace and respect on the court. I owe most of my childhood tennis experience to her and Lisa, and Georgia has been a consistent leadership figure in my life since age 11 when I met her at tennis camp. Ever since, we have been playing together as she leads the high school clinic at our Y.”
Those tight-knit bonds allowed Colburn to join her Y team on stage last November at New England Tennis Weekend where they received the 2022 National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) Chapter of the Year award.
“I have grown up with the same people my entire life, and it has continuously taught me how to be inspired by those around me and how important it is to immerse yourself within your community, no matter the circumstances,” Colburn said.