How many people remember stepping on a college campus for the first time as a freshman? For some of us, we were no longer the big fish, but a small fish in a bigger pond. It can be daunting to experience life away from home and all the familiar surroundings, but imagine if your home was on another continent.
Women’s tennis senior Caroline Rohde-Moe, a native of Bloomenholm, Norway, stepped off a plane three and a half years ago and walked into a new environment sight unseen with only the knowledge of what head coach Mark Beyers had told her on a visit to Norway.
“Since I had not been on a visit before, I didn’t know anything about Ole Miss or Oxford,” Rohde-Moe said. “Coach came to Norway to recruit me, and I decided this is what I wanted to do. When I came in January (2011), the other girls were already in Memphis playing in the first tournament of the season. My flight was delayed, I got into Oxford a day late, and then I had to do all the paperwork. That same night I went to Memphis, and the next day I played my first match. It was very hectic in the beginning, but I knew right away this was the perfect place for me.”
Fortunately for Rohde-Moe, she fit right in to the team environment and adjusted rather quickly to her new surroundings.
“It was definitely different than anything I was used to. The first couple of matches were so intense. It’s not just about you anymore, it’s about the team. You have people cheering for you and a coach on the court. With a new team, you have to get to know the players, but it was easy to adapt.”
Rohde-Moe remembers that first year like it was just yesterday and how much fun the matches were.
“I remember there were a lot of really close matches. Every match was so important, and it was so much fun competing. Having Gabby (Rangel), Abby (Guthrie), Kristi (Boxx), Laura (van de Stroet) and Connor (Vogel) the first year was nice. They set a great example for me for the future with their leadership. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.”
From the beginning, Rohde-Moe thrust herself into the spotlight, going 13-8 in dual matches, 5-5 in the SEC, while playing in the top half of the lineup. She has since earned All-SEC honors twice and helped lead the Rebels to the NCAA Championships each year of her career as well as participating in the singles championship.
“I feel like every semester has gone faster. The first semester went really fast, so you can imagine how fast this semester is going,” Rohde-Moe said. “Obviously I wish I had longer, but when I look back, I’ve had the best three and a half years I could ever ask for. I am really happy with my decision to come here and grateful for the opportunity I received to be a part of this program.”
For Rohde-Moe it’s not just about the wins and losses or her accomplishments on the tennis court. She has become the epitome of a student-athlete. Boasting a 3.94 grade point average in managerial finance, Rohde-Moe’s academic laurels are numerous. A member of the Honors College, Rohde-Moe is a two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete, has been named to Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities and recently received the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award at the Rebels’ Choice Awards. In addition, she will receive a Taylor Medal (highest academic honor at the University of Mississippi) and is a finalist for the SEC Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
“For me, I just decided I wanted to be successful academically as well as on the court,” Rohde-Moe said. “You have to make priorities. Usually I stay on campus the entire day and study between classes or hit some extra balls. I am lucky to study something that really interests me, and I have great professors. They are really good at helping you if you just show some interest. Through the Honors College I have been able to develop a closer relationship with my professors, because of the smaller class size.”
Rohde-Moe is set to graduate in May with her degree in managerial finance. And while she definitely has a future in some capacity of finance, she’s not ready to put away the racquet just yet.
“My plan is to go back to Norway and play tournaments,” Rohde-Moe said. “I want to travel around and play tournaments and see how I do. I’ve always had school and tennis, so now I just want to focus on tennis for awhile and see how it goes. I am not ready to give up tennis just yet. After that, I would like to go to graduate school in the U.S., and hopefully I can get into one of the top programs in business. I’ve been thinking about also getting a Ph.D. I really enjoy finance, it’s interesting. I would also like to work and experience the real world. But hopefully my tennis career can continue for awhile.”
Three years ago she took an offer to travel across the pond not knowing exactly what awaited her. Now as she gets ready for her final serve at Ole Miss, Rohde-Moe looks back fondly on her career and time in Oxford.
“It’s been a great experience. I’ve experienced so much in the last three years that I can take with me into a job setting, the competitiveness, time management and also all the people I’ve met,” Rohde-Moe said. “I would like to say thank you to everyone. I am really going to miss being here. I am just trying to enjoy every last minute of it. I’ve had the best time.”
Rohde-Moe will play her final home matches this weekend at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center as the No. 24 ranked Rebels (11-5, 5-4) welcome South Carolina and No. 7 Florida.
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