Over the past few years, University of Scranton men's tennis player Tim McGurrin Jr. has walked through the Long Center, the venerable home of the school's wildly successful basketball programs.
He always made sure to stroll by or stop and look at photos of the 15 past Royals who had been chosen as an NCAA postgraduate scholarship winner.
"I've been through the Long Center and there are pictures of the other scholarship winners," McGurrin said. "I thought if I ever go on to graduate studies, which I always intended to do, that I'd apply and hoped I'd be there one day."
He will be.
Clarks Summit resident McGurrin was among just 58 spring sport student-athletes - 29 men and 29 women - from schools in all three divisions nationwide to be honored with a postgraduate scholarship.
"I was surprised, especially after talking with my athletic director [Toby Lovecchio]," McGurrin said. "He said how competitive it was; I wasn't aware that it was so hard, so I'm very excited."
McGurrin is headed for law school at Temple University this fall after receiving both a bachelor of science and MBA degree in accounting in an accelerated program at the University of Scranton and has his sights set on practicing business law.
His college success academically has its roots firmly planted from his high school days across town at Scranton Prep.
"I came in from Scranton Prep with a year's worth of credits," McGurrin said. "I was able to do it in four years. It worked out well."
There are many people McGurrin wanted to give credit to for their help in him reaching this goal, starting with Royals men's head tennis coach Keith Hetsko.
"I was fortunate to have a great coach, who really preached school first, then athletics," McGurrin said. "When I knew I had a big test, he'd accommodate me."
This scholarship is a reward for all the hard work and long hours he's put into his academics over the years.
"I've made sacrifices along the way. In high school, I'd just roll with the flow. I had practice and I'd study and do my homework in between," McGurrin said. "It's not that difficult to manage time when you prioritize."
McGurrin got into his academic rhythm early and quickly discovered that focus and inquisitiveness can go a long way to becoming a successful student.
"My parents instilled good study habits," McGurrin said. "Time management has enabled me to do a lot through the years. I've been able to study, and have it turn into knowledge.
"I've been fortunate to have had great teachers. If I had questions, they'd take the time to explain it to me."
From his years at Our Lady of Peace in Clarks Green, to his high school days at Scranton Prep and college stint at Scranton, McGurrin knows that there have been a lot of behind-the-scenes people who have played a part in getting this award. He explained that it took five people just to get in the running for his scholarship - a recommendation from one of his professors, letters from Lovecchio, the sports information department and Hetsko and a fifth person that made sure all the paperwork got to the NCAA.
On the court, McGurrin has been part of outstanding teams both in high school and college and will always remember that part of his education fondly.
"I had a successful four years at Scranton Prep and it's been great here," McGurrin said. "We had a year where we had more wins than any other men's tennis team at Scranton. We made the [Landmark] conference championships four straight years. I've made a lot of great friends and had a lot of fun. I'm happy with my career."
On the court, he was named first-team all-Landmark Conference for his play in both singles and doubles in each of the past three seasons. He finished his career with a record of 38-19 (.667) in singles and 42-18 (.700) in doubles.
"I think my style is better suited to singles. The points last longer," McGurrin said. "Points are put away quicker in doubles, in part because there are more people on the court."
One thing it may be safe to say about McGurrin's future tennis career is how he'll look on the court. After four years at Prep and four more with the Royals, he will likely forego on wearing anything purple.
"This year we had black uniforms. I was a little tired of wearing purple," McGurrin said with a laugh. "But you always have to wear your school colors with pride."
After all his success on and off the court, Scranton will soon show its pride in McGurrin by putting his picture in the Long Center as the school's 16th NCAA postgraduate scholarship winner. Perhaps that photo could inspire a future Royals athlete to want to join that prestigious list.