Benay Weintraub '11
What year did you graduate from St. George’s?
I graduated from St. George’s in 2011.
Where did you attend college?
In 2015, I received my Bachelor’s degree from Whittier College (Whittier, CA). As a Poet, I was a four-year starter in singles and doubles for the tennis team and ITA Scholar-Athlete. In 2017, I earned my Master’s Degree from Smith College (Northampton, MA). As a Pioneer, I was a Teaching Fellow.
What did you study in college?
Whittier College: Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences.
Smith College: Masters of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies.
Where do you live and what is your profession?
I reside in Pasadena, California. It is awesome to live in-between the San Gabriel Mountains and next to one of the most iconic sports arenas in history – The Grandaddy of Them All, the Rose Bowl. As of August 2022, I was named the Head Women’s Tennis Coach at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Caltech is a regionally and nationally ranked NCAA Division III institution that competes in one of the country’s toughest conferences – Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SCIAC). Granted, I am biased because I played college tennis in the conference.
How did St. George’s prepare you for college, career, and life?
To this day, I thank my wonderful parents, Jayne & Jed, for enrolling me at St. George’s. The school’s culture of respect, accountability and open-mindedness prepared me for life beyond Wolf River Blvd. I can recall sitting in my first year writing seminar in college and feeling extremely confident because of AP English Literature in the 11th grade with Jennifer Vasil. St. George’s high academic standards, vigorous coursework, and encouraging teachers/staff allowed me to build confidence in myself, resiliency when things got challenging and find joy in the learning process. Those qualities, and so many others, transitioned across the bridge to the Gryphon Tennis Courts.
What activities/sports/clubs, etc., were you involved while at St. George’s?
St. George’s offers such a diverse slate of activities and clubs. I am so proud to say that I was a member of the Gryphon Tennis Team in Middle and Upper School. Tennis was a major piece of my St. George’s career.
Which teacher had the greatest impact on you and why?
I have to address three teachers that had the greatest impact on me – Bill Taylor, Mark Bran, and Mary Lou Johns. Mr. Taylor inspired me to continue reaching new levels in education. He consistently stressed the importance of listening, critical thinking and being fearless in the spirit of discovery. His words of wisdom encouraged me to earn my Master’s Degree, You never know what academic adventure is next! Mark and Ronny were my biggest supporters on the tennis court. I would alternate my private tennis lessons with them, and in the summers we would practice in the middle of day. We all know how intense a Memphis summer can be! It was those beautiful hot and humid days, hitting thousands of balls and conditioning, where I learned the value of perseverance and having faith in myself. We had our game faces on and a mission to accomplish, but we had a blast doing it. Lastly, Coach Johns was one of the few women athletic administrators and coaches on staff. Her legacy and commitment to encouraging and advancing girls in sport resinated with me. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in sports, and because I saw her living out that dream, it ultimately became my reality
What is your favorite St. George’s memory?
So many amazing memories come to mind! As an athlete, my favorite memory was partnering with Libby Heflin ’13 in doubles, and we clinched the Team State Championships. That was the pivotal moment that changed Gryphon Tennis forever - so many great champions to follow. I have to give a shoutout to Jill Seabrook (mother of Mary-Ashely and Kate Seabrook) for always encouraging us to “Bear Down”! As a student, I remember sitting with my parents in Mr. Gibson’s office (back in his college counseling days) and sticking push pins in a map of the United States. He asked me where I wanted to go to college, and I happily pinned Florida and Southern California. It was at that time, because of Mr. Gibson and my parents, I understood the importance of exploring outside the norms to challenge myself and gain a worldly perspective. After I graduated college, I moved back to Memphis to become the Assistant Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach at Rhodes College. Along with coaching at Rhodes College, I joined Coach Bran’s coaching staff for the Girls Varsity and JV Teams. Hannah Grace Howell and Claire McCord were victorious in their doubles match that earned us a spot in the TSSAA Finals. The Commercial Appeal captured this incredible photo of the girls rushing the court and embracing Hannah Grace and Claire. That picture now hangs in my new office at Caltech, and it puts a smile on my face every time I walk through the door. It was so much fun and an honor to be apart of Gryphon Tennis history as a player and then coach. I owe a big thank you to that State Finalist Team in 2015-2016 because it was them who launched my coaching career.
What advice would you give to St. George’s students or young alumni today?
As a collegiate coach and working with high school students, my advice would be to prepare early in the college search to make sure you have an understanding of what the institutions academic/athletic requirements are. I encourage you to get involved in clubs, organizations, the community, etc to gain a holistic perspective. For the young alumni, it is very important to be proactive when creating your network. Whatever field you are in, join an organization to keep building those relationships, stay up to date on trends, and continue to educate yourself in creative ways. Advancing in your career comes down to who you know and timing. The stronger your network, the louder your cheering squad is. Enjoy the ride, listen, learn and persevere. With a St. George’s experience, you can achieve anything you work towards!