Zoë Spence makes history at Notre Dame, hopes to bring student athletes together

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 3:51 PM EDT
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Notre Dame tennis player Zoë Spence has the blue and gold in her blood. It’s where both of her parents met, and she loved her four years playing tennis for the Fighting Irish.

"I always had people there to support me so that’s really helped me along the way," Spence said. "I think it’s even helped make my tennis better just playing freely and feeling good when I’ve been playing."

Spence accomplished so much on the Notre Dame tennis team.

She earned the No. 1 spot in the lineup, was named Third Team All-ACC in 2019 and was named a team captain for her senior season. However, the accomplishment Spence is most proud of is becoming the first African American in the history of the university to earn a scholarship for the Notre Dame women’s tennis team.

"It’s definitely made me want to make sure that I represent only myself well but my community well, and put a good representation of those who follow behind me," Spence said. "While it felt like pressure it also felt like something I should be proud of."

It is something Spence is super proud of, and she didn’t want to waste a golden opportunity to make a difference.

"When I came to Notre Dame, I didn’t want to be considered oh this is Zoë Spence, the first African American tennis player," Spence said. "I wanted to be thought of as Zoë Spence, the first African American tennis player who is going to make change and do something for the community."

Spence made a big difference. In 2018, she created a website called

which allows college athletes to communicate and support one another. She created this website for all student athletes but wanted to put an emphasis on African American student athletes.

"I think it’s really important to note other people’s stories like me." Spence said. "[It's also important] to help those African American student athletes who are unsure of where they want to go and maybe might be nervous like me about being the first, and just showing them what life is really like."

With everything going on right now in the country, Spence believes “Fresh Suspence” is perfect for African American student athletes to come together.

"A common theme that student athletes have been saying is utilizing our platform as student athletes right now, so I think it’s important for student athletes to really take advantage of that," Spence said.

Spence hopes her website becomes the go-to platform for student athletes nationwide to share their stories.

Spence will also continue her tennis career as a grad student at Northwestern.

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