We have a winner!

Dear friends,

After months of consideration and thousands of miles traveled, Kate has chosen a college to attend next fall.

Hooray for Kate! Hooray for her parents!

We ended up right where we started. Exactly where I figured she’d be. But since Kate’s first choice wasn’t her parents’ first choice, we thought the process of considering options was important.

And so we encouraged her to apply to no fewer than seven or eight universities. All were within a three-state area surrounding our home (Kate’s preference, not ours). And all offered women’s tennis programs at the NCAA Division-II level (the most important factor for Kate, who we never imagined would become the family jock).

We drove thousands of miles to make six campus visits over a four-month period. We poured over stacks of printed materials, surfed countless web pages, and exchanged emails and phone calls with many university faculty, coaches and administrators. Mr. Mom, Kate and I discussed the pros and cons of each school ad nauseam. In other words, we conducted a really typical college search.

In the end, my little chickadee proved herself to be a homing pigeon, choosing a regional university not far from our former home in Oklahoma – a school that offers both her academic program of choice (dietetics) and a first-rate tennis program.

Because I won’t be a bit surprised if Kate changes her major more than once before settling in, I focused less on degree programs available at our prospective schools and more on the quality of student life opportunities. In the end, however, it was tennis through-and-through that sold Kate.

Her school of choice boasts a tennis program that has competed in the national championships 17 out of the last 20 years and has produced six first-team All-Americans. The coach, as you might imagine, is old-school — tough as steel, demanding, and no-nonsense. He told us his regimen is rigorous and that his players cry regularly. He told us Kate won’t be a scholarship player and, in fact, she likely won’t compete for the team during her first two years. But the coach – who has won both National Coach of the Year and Conference Coach of the Year many times — promised Kate that if she’d commit, he’d make her the best tennis player she has the ability to be, and that’s the golden ring my girl is reaching for.

So the first part of our work – the agonizing over “where will she go?” – is done. I feel mightily relieved to have that part of the puzzle solved.  There are plenty more riddles to ponder, but I’m leaving them for another day.

For now, I’m celebrating a hard-fought victory – a family search for their daughter’s future that didn’t involve drama, acrimony, ultimatums, false pride and/or hope, or unspoken hurt feelings.

Like our favorite girl, we tried to be sensible and respectful in our deliberations. We started out with three different notions of what Kate’s future should look like and managed to come together for the first, critically important choice. Indulge me, please, if I give us all a pat on the back.  We just accomplished no small feat without a hint of resignation or regret, best I can tell.

The rest of the details, I hope, are all gravy.

With gratitude {for a family that has always managed to make me proud},

Joan, who would like to ask the universe for one more favor, please, which is the sale of her home in Oklahoma before the first tuition payment is due because two mortgages + college = oy!