A Weekend of Tennis, Brotherhood, and Mental Health Awareness
The picturesque Graul Varsity Tennis Complex at the University of Dayton came alive on September 15th and 16th, hosting the 2nd Annual James O'Connell Memorial Tournament. With participation from the tennis powerhouses of Ball State, Xavier, Northern Kentucky, and UD, it was not just a showcase of premier collegiate tennis but also a poignant tribute to the legacy of James O'Connell.
Beyond the electrifying matches, the tournament embodied the spirit of camaraderie, sportsmanship, and unity – all hallmarks of James' life and memory. The atmosphere was thick with emotion as the UD Coach, Ryan Meyer, and James' parents, Kevin and Deb O'Connell, addressed the Friday night dinner gathering. Their heartfelt words about mental health and crisis intervention struck a chord with everyone present, including UD Women's Tennis and Golf team members.
Highlighting the dedication of the UD Athletic Department towards fostering mental well-being amongst student-athletes, the JPO Foundation proudly contributed $2,500 towards this noble initiative. It's inspiring to witness how athletic platforms are being leveraged to underscore the significance of mental health, a topic often sidelined.
Connor Bruce, UD's top singles player, eloquently summed up the event's spirit. As quoted on the UD website, he remarked, "This weekend was a great start for Flyer tennis and for an even better cause remembering former UD tennis great James O'Connell."
A special shout-out to UD Coach Ryan Meyer and the retired MSU Coach Gene Orlando – their unwavering support and dedication have been instrumental to the JPO Foundation.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to every coach, player, teammate, and friend of James who made this weekend unforgettable. Here's to more such tournaments where sports and societal change converge!