About five years ago, James “Skip” Willcox took up tennis. He started playing with some friends at least twice a week to stay active. Now, it’s turned into his passion and so has giving back to the community through this sport.
Willcox is a mortgage banker and lending officer with Morris Bank in Dublin. However, his time off is spent on the courts, volunteering where he previously coached tennis, or watching tennis matches at Georgia College.
“GC tennis matches and events are great to attend and be involved in for several reasons,” says Willcox. “The program is very open and involved with fans, and Steve [Barsby] has done an amazing job in selecting top quality athletes and men and women with great character and attitude. With GC tennis, being a fan means experiencing a two-way street. Fans can enjoy and experience the matches, but also benefit from the players activities off the court with such organizations as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other causes.”
Another cause related to GC tennis players is one Willcox recently created — a GC Tennis Scholarship available for students who are on the tennis team with a GPA of 3.0 or above.
“I decided to give because I believe in what the tennis program does for GC and the community,” says Willcox. “Any opportunity to help grow it and bring more student-athletes to the program is something I want to be a part of. Steve works hard at fostering success in the program, and giving to the endowed scholarship lets me do my part to help.”
When GC Assistant Athletics Director and Head Tennis Coach Steve Barsby approached Willcox about the opportunity to give toward scholarships, he recognized Willcox was a big fan of the program and knew a lot of the players.
“My hope is that more fans and alumni will participate to help grow the program because when it grows, the community and school benefit greatly,” says Willcox.
A University of Georgia graduate, Willcox said he has been asked why he’s involved with GC tennis as opposed to UGA tennis. Although Willcox loves the Dawgs, he believes in what GC is doing and has been personally involved for several years.
“That personal touch makes all the difference,” mentions Willcox. “Giving to the tennis scholarship isn’t about giving to a vague, general cause. Instead, it’s like supporting your friends and family and helping them to succeed.”
Willcox points out that there are some exceptional student-athletes involved in the tennis program that have bright futures after college.
“My hope is that by providing the opportunity to come play at GC, recipients can continue to foster an already strong work ethic, sense of community and drive to win and succeed and go on to do great things in whatever field they happen to go into after graduation,” he concludes.
“Skip has become a great supporter of the tennis team since we have become friends approximately five years ago,” says Barsby. “He has a great passion for the game, and through our friendship he has chosen to make a difference and try to help the tennis team move forward. The scholarship he started will benefit our players and program and will help us push toward our goal of continuing to be one of the elite programs in the country.”
Willcox and his wife Cynthia, have two children: Evie, 2 and James, 6.
“James has already started playing tennis,” Willcox mentions. “He is very excited about going to Steve’s summer tennis camp soon.”
Currently, Willcox is involved with the Lions Club and teaches youth at Sandersville United Methodist Church. He previously served as a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, the Georgia Rural Health Association, as a coach for the Brentwood School tennis teams in Sandersville, the director and chairman of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, an adult education advisory board member with Oconee Fall Line Technical College and as chairman of the Sandersville United Methodist Church Council.
“Giving back to the community is always important, but especially so in rural areas where your work has a direct and visible impact on those around you,” he says.