One-of-a-kind relationship

Elizabeth+Ferdman+hits+a+forehand+in+November+2019.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29

Elizabeth Ferdman hits a forehand in November 2019. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

In college, important relationships develop everywhere, from student to student and teacher to student. They are also built between athletes and their coaches.

This athlete-coach relationship is often significant, and can last far beyond a game or match.

The relationship between sophomore tennis player Elizabeth Ferdman or known on the team as “Ferddie” and men’s and women’s tennis head coach Steve Rodecap is not just an athlete-coach relation, it is much more.

While Jody Bronson was the head coach of the women’s tennis team last spring, Rodecap still showed up at team practices and matches. Ferdman was very happy that he did, and felt it was one of his special qualities.

“He is a great mentor (and) good person to go to,” Ferdman said. “He makes me feel comfortable and safe.”

Even though she has only known Rodecap for a short period of time, he has already created a unique bond between the two, and Ferdman sees Rodecap as a mentor.

Ferdman has had a long history in the sport of tennis. She started playing at a very young age.

“I started when I was five and it was because my dad loved tennis,” Ferdman said.

This led Ferdman to become a four-year letterwinner at Adlai E. Stevenson High School. When it came to looking at colleges, Marquette was on that list.

In her first year at Marquette, Ferdman said she had a lot of nerves.

“I was shaking a lot,” Ferdman said. “But seeing teammates on courts next to me made me less nervous.”

Ferdman played two matches, two singles and two doubles with her partner Lesley Foe. Ferdman won all four matches ending the season with a 4-0 record.

Rodecap enjoys Ferdman’s personality and noticed it the very first time he met her.

“She brings an element to the team,” Rodecap said. “She is booming with excitement and has a spark that ignites the team.”

Rodecap also enjoys the attitude and uniqueness Ferdman brings to the court. Even during tough times, Ferdman can change the attitude on the court.

“She has a spark and dynamic that is special. She has a genuine spirit that is unique about her,” Rodecap said. “She can lighten the mood and bring smiles to faces during tough times.”

Rodecap always puts his players before himself and wants to be there when they need him. He wants his players to know he is not just their coach, he is more than that. Ferdman loves this quality about him.

“His door is always open. You can talk to him about everyday life and situations, not just tennis,” Ferdman said. “He treats the team like family.”

While on the court, Ferdman knows that Rodecap wants to see his players succeed.

“He just wants the best with all his players,” Ferdman said. “He wants you to do the best we can and be very competitive.”

In the short time Rodecap and Ferdman have known each other, the relationship between the two has already become unique and special.

Ferdman sees Rodecap as more than a coach. She sees him as someone she hopes to be in the future as she aims to become a coach. Rodecap has shown a great example on what a coach does. Elizabeth loves this about him wanting to become a coach in the future.

“I would love to be a coach like Rodecap,” Ferdman said.

This story was written by Matthew Valente. He can be reached at matthew.valente@marquette.edu.