Feb. 12, 2014
By Tayler Turner ‘14
When summer break finally rolls around, it offers college students a much needed breather from the challenges of being an undergraduate. For your average student, summer is a chance to go home and recuperate after the grueling stress of a semester and—more immediately—finals week.
But Matt Dooley of the Notre Dame men’s tennis team is no average student, and last summer was a completely different story.
Instead of rushing home to the warm San Antonio weather as soon as school let out, Dooley stayed in the South Bend area to study for the notorious MCATs in hopes of one day becoming a doctor. He didn’t make the process easy on himself either—instead of studying all semester long for the challenging test, Dooley purposely left all of his MCAT studying until after he finished with school and tennis.
“I am one of those people who needs to focus on what I am doing right now at this very moment,” Dooley explains, “Last semester, I took my MCAT May 30, and it was also my first season starting full travel with the tennis team. That added a pressure of balancing this new factor of tennis in my life and it was much more taxing. I asked myself, ‘What can I do right now to make my life easier and move in the direction I want to go?’ and I decided that I needed to focus purely on tennis and my grades at the time, all while knowing that this left only 17 days to study for the MCAT.”
You didn’t misread that. Dooley waited until he only had 17 days left to start studying for the biggest test of his college career. Even though he left himself with limited study time, the science-business major never doubted himself once.
“I knew it would be tough, but I trusted myself to get the work done,” says Dooley. “I knew I had the determination to put the hours in, and I knew I had a great base because Notre Dame is such an amazing educational institution.”
As soon as school let out and the team’s tennis season was over, Dooley committed himself completely to studying for the MCATs, logging six or seven hours of studying a day. In addition, the senior stayed around campus to help fellow teammate and close friend Greg Andrews in his preparation for the NCAA singles competition.
His typical day consisted of three hours of studying every morning followed by two hours of training with Andrews. After that, the senior would spend time working out at the gym by himself before returning home only to study for at least four more hours.
“I wouldn’t want to do it again,” he laughs. “It was rough.”
Fortunately for Dooley, he won’t have to do it again, as his scores the first time around seem to have done the trick. Regardless of his cram style study methods, Dooley recently gained admittance into medical school at the University of San Antonio Uthscsa.
Although he is still making a decision about where he wants to go, Dooley is excited about the prospect of attending a medical school back in his home town of San Antiono, Texas. Additionally, the senior already knows many of the doctors employed at Uthscsa and the hospitals near the university due to past summer internship experiences.
As for which field of medicine to pursue, Dooley is still uncertain. However, as of now, both surgery and internal medicine are attractive options to him.
“I can see myself in both surgery and a medicine based field because they are tailored towards what I’ve been doing my whole life,” explains Dooley. “Surgery is very similar to athletics because you perfect a particular skill and work towards getting better. I can see the parallels there and I love it. And internal medicine is so much more intellectual and cerebral by taking one hint at a time and moving forward. It’s a puzzle and I love that, too. I’m kind of taking it as it comes and going to make that decision as late as possible.”
Even though he has still not decided on a branch of medicine, Dooley’s future is certainly bright. As for now, he can finally begin to relax and spend his senior spring focusing on tennis and his last season with the guys.
The tennis team is off to a 7-1 start—one of their best in program history—which includes knocking off a top-10 opponent on the road. For Dooley, the prospect of an amazing tennis season is the cherry on top of the cake.
“I couldn’t be happier— the team is doing fantastic! We have so many talented guys, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”