Mary Ella Owen is going to be a Shorter Lady Hawk this coming fall as she completed the last step on her journey to college with her name added to the dotted line of an offer to join the school’s tennis program.

Owen celebrated with teammates, friends, family and the Lady Jackets tennis coach on May 14.

When asked why she chose Shorter, Owen smiled and greeted the thought with a shrug.

“Even my parents don’t really get it, but it just feels right to go there,” Owen said.

She also enjoyed the fact that Shorter’s campus in Rome is just a short drive down Highway 101 from Rockmart.

“I really like all the faculty there, and they want me to come there. I’ve talked to some of the girls on the tennis team and they are excited I’m joining them soon.”

Owen always feels great when she’s out on the court and able to perform, but not just for herself. Winning also means that others are excited as well, something that gives her a positive feeling.

“I appreciate the opportunity to continue my success, and what I’ve been able to do at Rockmart I hope to be able to do at Shorter,” Owen said.

The daughter of Dr. Neeve Owen and Rockmart boys tennis head coach Barry Owen, she plans to pursue a degree in occupational therapy. Her hopes are to be able to help others upon her graduation.

“My original goal was to become a physical therapist,” Owen said. Then she saw the positive outcomes working with special needs students in the classroom and approached one of the teachers in the Polk School District program about what it would take to help students in her future career.

She said she would greatly miss the camaraderie she had with her teammates and friends, and that “I’m really sad to be leaving.”

Lady Jackets head tennis coach Kent Mathis, who is retiring at the end of the school year, said during her signing ceremony on May 14 that her dedication got her to a college team.

“She’s that young lady who during the summertime was out there practicing and getting in drills,” Mathis said. “She always showed that through the way she played and improved each year.”

Mathis added that “it paid off for her, and we’re very proud of her.”

Owen has played tennis for the Lady Jackets all four years of her career, and has been part of a program with multiple trips to the state playoffs over the past years. This year, the team made it to the Elite Eight round of play.