Through The Eyes

An Oakland Athletics site

Thank You For The Opportunity

By Ava Thielman

The idea of transferring is quite scary, isn’t it?! I mean, after all, you spend all this time adjusting to an environment, making friends, finding a routine…

And then, you pretty much start from scratch again. You don’t know if you’ll fit in, get along with your teammates, or enjoy your living arrangements. It’s daunting, to say the least.

Luckily for me, transferring was the best decision I ever made.

Michigan State

I started my college career at Michigan State.

For some kids, getting a scholarship is the ultimate goal. And I get it, it’s a great testament to all your hard work and dedication. But in my case, I wanted more. Way more.

Once I got to MSU, I was eager to earn my spot on the team. I knew that I needed to keep improving my game. And so I did. I put in a lot of hard work. On the court, in the weight room, and in the classroom as well.

But unfortunately, things don’t always go your way.

I spent almost my entire freshman year playing doubles. Don’t get me wrong. I love playing doubles. But I didn’t work this hard to not see any singles action.

To a certain degree, I felt my hard work was going a bit unnoticed. After all, I came to the conclusion that I needed a change. A major change.

You see, the main problem was, I began to fall out of love with the sport a bit. And that’s certainly not what I had in mind when I began my college career. I loved my teammates and everything about MSU, but something just didn’t click.

So, I decided to transfer and dive into a new chapter.

Ava Thielman Oakland Golden Grizzlies Tennis FanWord 1
Ava Thielman Oakland Golden Grizzlies Tennis FanWord 4

Decision To Transfer

That chapter took me to Oakland. The weird thing about my transfer is that now, looking back, it was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.

And deciding where to transfer? Well, that might have been even easier. I knew I wanted to stay close to home without jeopardizing any athletic or academic value. Oakland was less than 30 minutes from my parents’ house, had an amazing athletic program, and a rich academic history. It was perfect!

Once I was officially released, I contacted coach Redshaw to see if there were any openings. She told me that a player had actually just left the program, so the transition was smooth. Even though my transfer worked out well, it was still pretty nerve-wracking.

I think humans are creatures of habit. And I wasn’t any different. So, no matter how ready you think you might be for a change, all of that preparation goes down the drain on the very first day. I didn’t know anyone at Oakland. Or anything for that matter.

There was only one thing I knew for sure. I took a huge leap of faith. Now, I needed to put in the work to make sure it was all worth it.

Competitive Fire

So, I immediately took my ambitions to the court. And now that I was representing my new school, it was time to light my competitive fire again.

After all, it was that competitive fire that turned me into a really good junior player. And I have to thank my junior coach for that. He is the one that really helped me fall in love with the sport. 

With this new attitude, I started gaining confidence on the court. I began to stand up for myself if I disagreed with calls. Call it a bit of feistiness, if you want. But because of it, I was playing in and winning more junior & national tournaments.

This new opportunity at Oakland reminded me of these junior years. I was feeling that excitement again. Finally! I couldn’t wait to get back on the court.

Early Success

My first year came along, and my attitude towards it was simple. I had something to prove. Most importantly, I wanted to show Coach Redshaw that she made the right decision. When she gives me an opportunity, I won’t disappoint.

And she gave me that opportunity. I finally played singles.

Sure, playing singles comes with a lot more pressure. After all, you don’t have a partner that can pick up your game if you hit a bit of a down. But, with no pressure, there would be no “diamonds”. And I wanted to shine. So, I did.

I finished my first year with an 18-5 singles record and the most wins in Oakland’s Division I era. I also helped Oakland win its first post-season match in program history. And even earned the Horizon League Player of the Year award, the program’s first ever student-athlete to earn conference player of the year honors.

I also get to compete at the Oracle ITA Masters in Malibu California this month, the first student-athlete from Oakland to ever participate in the event.

Of course, none of this would’ve been possible without my teammates and coaches. They were all so welcoming of me joining the program. Most importantly, they’ve all pushed me to be the best I can be. The support system I have here at Oakland is unmatched.


Most importantly, they’ve all pushed me to be the best I can be. The support system I have here at Oakland is unmatched.

Watch Us Work

In my second year with the Golden Grizzlies, things are going to be different. I’ve spent the last year settling in and kind of trying to prove a point.

With the newly-gained confidence from this past year, our entire team is ready to show what we can do. We feel like we are finally at a point where we can compete with any team on our schedule this year. And it’s time for us to translate that on the court.

So, this year, our number one goal is to compete for the Horizon League championship. We have the talent and determination to make it happen.

Don’t believe it?! Watch us!