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Led to lead Godwin making the most of coaching opportunity

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Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:08 pm | Updated: 2:50 pm, Wed Apr 18, 2012.

When looking back on the path that took her to Murfreesboro, Middle Tennessee State University women's tennis coach Shelley Godwin knows she was led to lead.

The 2005 Enterprise High School graduate developed a love for tennis at an early age, and relished the opportunity to play for the Lady Cats.

"It gave it a completely different aspect," Godwin said. "Instead of playing for myself, I was now playing for a team (with) other girls around me cheering for me."

When her senior season arrived, Godwin was busily strengthening her tennis resumé.

"I was playing tennis elsewhere besides just through my school. I was playing tennis for myself individually in different tournaments around the country trying to go to college," she said. "To be able to then come back and play for my school was really special. Enterprise was home."

Godwin capped her EHS career with the 2005 state singles championship, and continued playing tennis in college for University of Alabama women's tennis coach Jenny Mainz.

College wasn't the first time Godwin was introduced to the Crimson Tide coach. The two met when 10-year-old Godwin attended gymnastics camp at The Capstone.

"It was her first day on the job as the tennis coach, and I was with my dad," she said. "When my dad and I left the hotel where we met her I told him, 'I'm going to play for her one day.'"

Godwin made an immediate impact on the court as a freshman. She was injured for part of her junior season, but the time on the sideline gave Godwin her first glimpse of coaching. The University of Alabama athletics website, rolltide.com, lists her total Crimson Tide victories at 59 singles and 29 doubles matches.

"For me, fulfilling that childhood dream and statement, the entire time it was just like living out a dream. All four years were just a fairytale," Godwin said. "I became a much better player (and)  a better person. It couldn't have been a better experience at Alabama."

Her college experience ended in 2009, and Godwin was still unsure of her future.

"The day I went home from school when the season ended, Michigan State called me and wanted to know would I be interested in their assistant's job," she said. "For me it was like God was just putting it in my lap saying, 'This is where you're supposed to be.' I just followed and went to Michigan State for those two years, and it was definitely the right thing."

Two seasons on the Spartans' staff helped affirm Godwin's desire to enrich the lives of student-athletes.

"I do love coaching. I do love interacting with the girls and helping them become better people and players," she said. "Definitely, those two years helped me realize how much I do love coaching."

The second-year assistant was prepared to return to Michigan State for a third season when Middle Tennessee State presented her with an offer to lead the Blue Raiders.

"Once again, it just felt right," Godwin said. "It felt like God was leading me this way."

After arriving Middle Tennessee State's coach in September of 2011, Godwin led the Blue Radiers to a 14-6 record in the regular season.

"We have enjoyed success," she said. "We won eight in a row at one point and they are loving it, but they deserve it."

The regular season has drawn to a close, and Godwin has enjoyed being able to provide the team she was led to lead with a positive influence.

"For me, that's why I coach," she said. "Tennis is the avenue, but the purpose is that they become better people and hopefully better tennis players along the way."

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