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Seidenberg says goodbye after 25 years of coaching

After 25 years of training and mentoring Godwin’s girls tennis team, Mark T. Seidenberg has made the decision to step down from this position. 

As of now, Seidenberg has officially resigned from his coaching position. There has not been a decision made as of yet regarding Seidenberg’s replacement, though Seidenberg is willing to aid in a smooth transition.

“[Selecting a new coach] is up to [Tom Nadeau], our activities director. I will help the new coach in any way they might need,” said Seidenberg.

For Seidenberg, this was a necessary but difficult decision as someone who has always held his team’s best interest at heart. 

“[This was a] very difficult decision. I love coaching and really wanted to coach the group of girls that were returning this year. I did not think I could put in the time and effort that is involved and that’s not fair to the team,” said Seidenberg.

In college, Seidenberg began coaching basketball at Amelia Academy, forming the foundations for a career of instruction and mentorship, both on and off the court.

Since then, Seidenberg has worked as Douglas Freeman High School’s boys tennis coach, Godwin’s boys basketball head coach, assistant softball coach, head girls basketball coach, and finally girls tennis coach.

In his years coaching the girls tennis team, Seidenberg has experienced numerous winning seasons and team accomplishments.

“25 years. 432-53 [winning] record. Once, [we] won 16-straight region championships and went to state finals 14 consecutive years winning 10 times. As a school, Mills Godwin has won more girls state championships than any school in the state,” said Seidenberg.

photo courtesy Lindsey Howard Staples
Seidenberg and the girls tennis team of 2004.

Looking back at his years with the team, Seidenberg reflected on some nostalgic moments as coach, noting memories at practices, in team huddles, and prepping for state championships.

“Loved practices, enjoyed the team huddles…where it was just the team hanging out together, loved the trips we made as a team and the opportunity to compete for state championships, going over the scouting reports the night before a state championship in a hotel conference room and the dinners we had together, [and I] always enjoyed the freshman skits where they often imitated the staff and players,” said Seidenberg.

After hearing the news about Seidenberg’s departure, tennis players, both past and present, shared their thoughts about the coach.

“[Seidenberg] wasn’t just a great coach, he was also a mentor and friend,” said Godwin alumnus and former tennis player, Lindsey Howard Staples.

Staples, now a 34-year-old mother of two, spent the entirety of her high school career training in tennis under Seidenberg’s tutelage.

photo courtesy Lindsey Howard Staples
Seidenberg and the girls tennis team of 2004.

“He guided us to district, regional and state championships, helped us navigate high school and life, and supported and believed in us. He was intense, competitive and laser focused on goals but at the same time, he kept things light and fun…he sang whenever he got the chance (and not well I might add) and he loved to trash talk…we are still friends to this day,” said Staples.

Working with Seidenberg, Staples sharpened and cultivated her tennis skills, while picking up a few life lessons along the way.

“Tennis taught me a lot of life lessons – hard work, sportsmanship, respect, integrity, responsibility/accountability, resiliency, self-confidence to name a few. Coach S reinforced those lessons each and every day and taught me a lot about teamwork. He showed me how important camaraderie and cohesion is to a team’s success. He preached that we won as a team and lost as a team…every person played a role whether they were in the lineup or not. I took those lessons with me to college and now into my professional career,” said Staples.

photo courtesy Lindsey Howard Staples
left to right: Staples, Seidenberg, and Kate Harrington Key

Holding a similar love for tennis, current senior girls tennis players, Diana Kirilov and Allyson Wang, shared their own experiences with Seidenberg as their coach.

“Seidenberg is one of the most determined and charismatic people I’ve ever met. His unwavering commitment and love for tennis have truly cultivated my passion for playing with the school team over the past three years. His resilience and coaching continuously inspire us girls to overcome challenges together with confidence and push us to our full potential physically and mentally,” said Wang.

Promoting an atmosphere of success and camaraderie, players have thrived under Seidenberg’s coaching methods, surpassing their initial athletic potential.

“I didn’t have any experience playing doubles before I joined the team, but over the years, Coach Seidenberg has developed my game tremendously. I’ve definitely improved since freshman year especially at the net, and Coach Seidenberg’s continued encouragement has also made me feel more confident in my abilities. He has only ever made me feel welcome, and the sense of community he fostered with the team has stuck, as we all still communicate with girls that have graduated,” said Kirilov.

Universally, players appreciate the kind notes Seidenberg would often send them in class during the school year to encourage his team. Though, the most favored memory of players centers on the team’s annual trip to Cambridge, Md., organized by their coach.

“One of the fondest memories I’ve had with the team was during freshman year when we traveled to Maryland together. This two-day trip has been a Godwin girls tennis team tradition at the onset of the season. Though we had the opportunity to get in lots of matchplay, this trip  ultimately served as a great team bonding experience between the girls and coaches, from performing ‘freshman skits’ to playing scavenger hunt around the hotel,” said Wang.

While the Cambridge convention may be the favored memory of more recent players, girls tennis veterans Jackie Holt Stoneburner, now the 33-year-old founding partner to an ed-tech company, and Staples acknowledge one state championship memory which outshines all the rest.

photo courtesy Diana Kirilov
The girls tennis team on their annual trip to Cambridge, Md. in 2019.

“My favorite memory is when we got to shave coach’s head after winning states,” said Stoneburner.

Both Staples and Stoneburner agreed that Godwin’s 2004 tennis season held one of their favorite memories of Seidenberg.

“So many great memories but one that sticks out was when we won the team State Championship my junior year. We had a very cohesive and close team so to achieve our goal of a third straight team state championship (a three-peat) in front of a large crowd at Raintree was very fulfilling. We celebrated by shaving Coach Seidenberg’s head!” said Staples.

photo courtesy Lindsey Howard Staples
Seidenberg and the girls tennis team of 2004.

Remembering their time with Seidenberg and looking to a future without their coach, players hope to carry on the legacy Seidenberg has created while adapting to whatever may come next.

“Seidenberg has coached the team for nearly 25 years, so the team undoubtedly will be impacted but I am confident that we will continue our traditions and work hard as a team. Coach may not be on the court with us, but his never-ending support for Godwin girls tennis will help us move forward,” said Wang.

With the prospects of a new coach, players are intrigued for what may be in store for the team.

“I’m excited to see who the new coach will be. It’ll be interesting to see what changes [may come], but I’m optimistic for the season,” said Kirilov.

As Seidenberg’s time as coach comes to an end, he shares some lasting words of gratitude and a farewell to the team.

“I know that I will miss coaching the girls a lot. I feel that MG is one of the most respected programs in the state. That’s a credit to all the girls’ hard work over the years and the many assistant coaches who helped the program along the way. Without them, we never would have had the success we did,” said Seidenberg.

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