Jessica Turbitt was not outside on the Notre Dame Academy tennis courts when practice began Monday afternoon. Instead, Turbitt, the defending Delaney Athletic Conference singles champion, was inside the school, working with her math teacher.
"Pre-calculus," said Turbitt, sighing.
Turbitt is beginning her senior year at the Middleburg private school, and she is trying to find ways to pursue her three main goals: To repeat as the DAC singles champion, to bring Notre Dame the regular season and tournament team titles, and to focus on her schoolwork so she can pursue her dream of a career in medicine.
"I usually don't miss practice to get extra help for school [like Monday]," Turbitt said. "Usually, I'm at tennis, and I go and stay for as long as I can. The only reason why I would ever miss tennis practice is for school."
Plus, she said, the exercise is good for her.
"I feel a lot peppier," Turbitt said. ". . . And it's a way to get my aggression out. Sometimes, if a day feels like such an overload, tennis is just like adding another brick to the pile. But if it's a beautiful day, and you're joking around with your friends--it's great to be outside."
This is Turbitt's fourth year on the Notre Dame tennis team. As a sophomore, she was the No. 5 player on a team that capped an undefeated season by sweeping the DAC's regular season and tournament titles. The top four players from that team graduated, leaving Turbitt as the team's No. 1 player last season.
"She's the only one on the team this year that has that total experience," Notre Dame Coach J.D. Almond said. "She was there when the team was undefeated and knows what that's like."
Turbitt's sophomore year was significant for more than just tennis success; that was the year she started seriously thinking about going into medicine. That year, she took basic CPR and first aid classes and also volunteered with the New Baltimore fire and rescue squad when she found time.
"That was a really good experience, and it got me interested in medicine," said Turbitt, who is taking physics, advanced placement chemistry and the aforementioned pre-calculus class in order to prepare herself for college.
"I got to run calls [with the fire and rescue squad]--nothing too dramatic, some little car accidents where both drivers were okay; a fall by an elderly man. Being able to be involved for a few months, I just got the feeling that medicine might be a good thing for me."
For career day, Turbitt shadowed Trice Gravatte, her family doctor in Warrenton. She is interested in obstetrics; she was present at the birth of her youngest sister, Katy, two years ago.
"I'm the oldest of five girls, so I've had to pull a lot of mommy responsibilities," Turbitt said. "I've been baby-sitting for what feels like 35 years now, and that has a lot to do with why I'm interested in children and babies."
And although she isn't positive what precisely her calling is--last year, her advanced placement biology class took a field trip to watch a surgery, and she promptly decided she did not want to become a surgeon--she is staying focused on science to set the stage for pre-med in college.
"I think it would be easier to back off if I decided I wasn't interested in it than jump in," Turbitt said. "I love to push myself with my classes, and I feel like I'm pushing myself this year."