College tennis setback failed to deter a budding court star

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By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

As a youth growing up on the east side of Detroit, Bill McConico had dreams of attending Morehouse College, the all-male private school in Atlanta that traditionally ranks among the premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the country.

It is the college that has produced the likes of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, filmmaker Spike Lee, and Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses.

As a 1991 graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, where he was a star tennis player, McConico even had the dream of earning a full-ride tennis scholarship to Morehouse.

“The only hitch was that Morehouse only had  one remaining tennis scholarship,” noted McConico, who was one of three possible recipients, including a friend of his from Detroit. “As a result, the winner of that scholarship would have to prove it on the court in (round-robin) matches against the others.”

The two Detroit players proved no match for the eventual champ, however, each losing decisively in the winner-take-all competition.

“It wasn’t an easy pill to swallow and it was a long ride back to Detroit for the two of us,” said McConico, who still had his heart set on attending Morehouse even with tennis scholarship offers to attend other colleges.

While disappointed, McConico said he was unfazed by the tennis setback, deciding that “I’m going to make the team as a walk-on.”

Which he did, playing for the Maroon Tigers, a Division II program that competes in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

As a freshman at Morehouse, McConico enjoyed a particularly stellar season on the tennis courts, earning all-conference honors for his play in singles and doubles action.

“It was a life lesson for me,” said McConico of his decision to try out for the Morehouse tennis team as a freshman. “I decided it could go one of two ways – I could quit and give up on playing tennis in college or I could persevere and try harder in an effort to make the team. The choice was clear for me.”

And it is one that the now Chief Judge of the 36th District Court and his wife, Jennifer, have tried to impart upon their three children, 24-year-old Kendall, 16-year-old William II, and 14-year-old Ava.

With success.

Kendall, who earned her high school diploma from University Liggett, received a bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where she was a four-year starter on its basketball team after earning all-state honors at Liggett. She now works for the Wayne County Clerk’s office in its expungement program while also writing for The Michigan Chronicle and BLAC magazine in Detroit.

Her brother, William II, will be a junior at U of D Jesuit this fall and sports a 3.90 GPA. He is a member of the cross country and track teams at Jesuit, and also is displaying an early interest in pursuing a legal career by competing on the mock trial team at the school.

“He likes to accompany me to court as often as he can,” the Chief Judge said of his son. “He’s showing a real interest in the law as a career.”

The family’s youngest, Ava, may take a different career path, according to her father.

“She will be a freshman at Renaissance this year and has been invited to be part of the school orchestra,” McConico said. “She plays the violin and the cello, and carries a 4.0 GPA. Let’s just say that I never had grades like that.”



 

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