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Dropped Tennis for DropSpot

Michael Gardiner playing tennis for Ithaca College during his Sophomore year.

Key Points

  • It’s difficult to be a student athlete while preparing for your future career
  • Michael Gardiner stopped playing tennis to focus on his app development and his academics
  • If his schedule allows for it, he’ll play tennis again during his senior year at Ithaca College.

In college, and in life, balance is the key to success. Balance tends to boil down to managing work load, planning for the future, and your social life. But throw in an extra factor, such as playing a sport, and things can get overwhelming.

Just ask Ithaca College Computer Science major Michael Gardiner, who has played tennis his entire life. Gardiner said his father, who was a professional tennis player, was his “main push into tennis itself.”

Michael Gardiner playing tennis in high school while his coach watches on the sidelines. His father took the picture.

He decided his junior year of high school that he would play sport in college, choosing between basketball and tennis. He picked tennis because it was more likely he could get a scholarship in a less competitive sport, compared to college basketball.

But after three years of being a student athlete, Gardiner was growing passionate for something new: coding.

Court vs Code

“As much as I love sports and as much as I love tennis, my heart right now is in what I’m doing in app development. I can sit on a computer for 10 hours [out of] 24 hours a day, and just code. And I would never get bored of it,” said Gardiner. “You’re creating something that can be put on to this new piece of technology that’s only been around for so many years. And I think that in itself it awesome.”

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DropSpot Promotional Image with Gardiner and Nardone (right) before the release on February 24th, 2018

Gardiner teamed up with his best friend, Isaiah Nardone, to create DropSpot, a new app specifically for college students.

Gardiner and Nardone are both juniors at Ithaca College and they like to get across that the app is by college students and for college students.

The app is only accessibly by college students. There are two kinds of users: those who want to put their event or party on the map and those who are looking to attend them. So far, the app is only accessible to students in Ithaca New York.

Gardiner editing the code of the app DropSpot

As a Computer Science major, Gardiner knew app development was a practical application of his education.

“You hit your junior year in college and you kind of get that little person speaking in your head saying ‘oh crap what should I do after college?’ and I kind of need to start preparing,” said Gardiner. “So my way to start doing that was paying more time to DropSpot spending more time on it and my academics. And the only way to start doing that was to not play tennis.”

Gardiner says he now realizes it was the right decision. “Taking the year off from tennis has been very beneficial.”

Trying Tennis Again

Even though Gardiner hasn’t played tennis in 10 months, he can see himself walking back on the court as a senior.

“I would love to get back into tennis it’s very dependent on my academic schedule and DropSpot,” said Gardiner “I’ll go from putting four hours into [DropSpot] a day, to maybe just an hour and a half.”

Gardiner misses playing tennis, his teammates, the competition, and the atmosphere, and his teammates are pushing him to play again during his last year. And his teammates, especially his doubles partner Minos Stavrakas, are pushing him to play again during his senior year.

“I really miss playing with him, we have a really good chemistry on the court and off the court,” said Stavrakas. “Our game styles match each other, and we really played well together.”

Gardiner and Minos Stavrakas playing doubles together

Despite missing his friend on the court, Stavrakas is supportive of Gardiner’s focus on the DropSpot app.

“It will expand and people will use it in Ithaca and probably at other schools,” he said.

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Ithaca College Tennis team during Michael’s last year


Discovering your passion takes time, and Gardiner is excited about the future, “Just the possibilities in the computer science world it’s really exciting to me. I really love tennis, and if I do want to pick it up again, I can.”

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The entire DropSpot team from left to right: Louis Levanti,  Michael Gardiner, Isaiah Nardone, Andrew Martin, Maddy Bellard


On Michael’s facebook page, it still has his first description of himself set as “Ithaca College Tennis Team”.

We all know Facebook is forever.

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