Athletes use many techniques and methods to get away from the rigors that can be associated with practice as well as competition. They use these ways to ease their mind and relax. For Middlebury women’s tennis senior Ria Gerger, she turns to music and the writing of it to get away from it all.
A native of Houston, Texas and a graduate of the The Emery/Weiner School, Gerger brought her many talents from southern Texas to New England.
When looking at an education after high school, Gerger was in search of a place to call her home away from home and found it half way across the country in Vermont. She was looking for an institution that would challenge her academically as well as allowing her to step onto the tennis court right away.
Looking to continue her tennis career, she looked at competing at either the Division I or Division III level. Head coach Mike Morgan gladly welcomed her into his nationally-ranked women’s tennis program, as the three-time ITA singles All-American looks for her senior season.
In this edition of Panther Profile, Ria talks about why she chose Middlebury, how she balances athletics and academics, what activities she participates in while not in season, her funny response to her future plans and also expands on her love for composing her own songs and producing them.
Why did you decide to attend Middlebury?
I knew I wanted to play college tennis. I was looking at a variety of Division I as well as Division III programs. I am not sure why, but in my gut I knew that I would love Middlebury. I fell in love with the tennis program, the current players who I had already met early on during my visit, and the classes that I attended.
What are some of the factors that sparked your interest in Middlebury? At what age did you hear about the school?
I had heard about the term “Little Ivy” schools so often from my father. Vermont and Middlebury seemed like some foreign alien land to me. (Sometimes it still does). But I'd heard about it through a girl whose older sister played tennis here, and from an artist I met once at the Rice Art Gallery. I didn't think about applying until I met head coach Mike Morgan at a national tournament.
What other activities either on campus or in the community do you participate in outside of class and tennis?
I was a lot more involved in other activities my first year and a half at Middlebury. There are so many things that I wanted to do on campus, but I realized that doing a few things fully is more important to me. In my free time, I paint and sing a lot. I've just started going to the Old Stone Mill (OSM) again to throw on the pottery wheel. I am on the green liaison team, and I go to weekly Student Investment Committee meetings just to keep up with current events. Applications for future jobs and tennis have consumed a lot of my time this year (and school of course), so I'm trying to enjoy the little time I have left here with the people I love.
How do you balance your academic class load with your athletic schedule?
I can't imagine not playing tennis. I'd get into way too much trouble! Yes, being in season fall and spring can be tough, and I have sacrificed a lot (mostly sleep); but, these girls are my family and tennis is a passion of mine. I can't imagine Middlebury without these memories.
At what age did you find a love for tennis, enough to continue to pursue it at such a high level here at Middlebury?
I come from a big tennis family. My mother played professionally and my dad played at Yale for a few years. We used to have Sunday family dual matches. I realized how much I loved tennis the first time I got hurt and couldn't play- I knew I wanted to keep playing.
What do you have planned for next year’s J term and next summer (internship, job, etc)?
As of next year, I am going through the job application process and haven’t finalized plans yet. I always say I wanted to be a superhero or an astronaut- something like that.
You had mentioned that you write and record songs with your father. Where do you get inspiration for the songs, where are they recorded, how many have you done, etc?
I've recorded about nine songs with him. I have three uploaded right now on SoundCloud. I'll be adding some others that were recorded last summer later this month.
My father and I always sang together and he plays the guitar. It was a natural progression in many ways. We'd written all these songs and wanted to record them somehow. So the past two summers, we recorded them and will hopefully be releasing our album to go platinum before the winter shopping season kicks off.