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Chris Raupp qualifies for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games

Aramark employee Chris Raupp receives recognition for his success in athletics

Chris Raupp at the Xperience Tennis Invitational at the Boar's Head Sports Club.
Chris Raupp at the Xperience Tennis Invitational at the Boar's Head Sports Club.

For 26 years, Chris Raupp has been known by his peers as a hard-working, dedicated and friendly staff member of Newcomb dining hall. However, most may not realize what his life consists of outside the boundaries of the University. 

This past July, Raupp represented the state of Virginia in tennis at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games held in Seattle, Wash., where Raupp won silver in singles, and he and his partner John Fried won the gold medal at the 5+ level — the highest of the competition. The Special Olympics games in Seattle was Raupp’s second appearance at the USA Games. Raupp also qualified for the Games back in 2006 which took place in Ames, Iowa.

Prior to the USA Games, Raupp was notified that he was selected to represent the USA at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi as one of 14 tennis players in the United States’ 220 person delegation. Raupp will play both singles and doubles — partnering with a player from California — in the week-long tournament.

When Raupp found out that he qualified for the world games, he was incredibly excited. 

“This [will be] my first chance to go to the world games and it’ll be my first visit to the Middle East,” Raupp said. “I’m excited to represent the U.S. and wear the U.S. uniform.”

A typical day for Raupp begins at 5 a.m. when he wakes up to catch the Jaunt bus from his group house to his job at Newcomb which begins at 6:30 a.m. His workday runs until 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Fridays. Presently, Raupp is in charge of the drink station at the dining hall where he serves coffee, milk and other drinks. He also performs other duties such as clearing tables. 

Although Raupp’s father Lloyd Raupp has never actually seen his son at work, he understands that Raupp’s favorite part of the job is interacting with the students, especially the student athletes.

“Chris is well known at Newcomb for his friendliness and interest in the students, especially the student athletes,” Lloyd Raupp said in an email. “Over the years he has run into a number of former U.Va. athletes at locations outside the local area. They all remember him.” 

Lloyd Raupp also believes Raupp’s job at Newcomb keeps him mentally stimulated.

“I think it’s the interacting with the students,” Lloyd Raupp said. “He doesn’t interact so much that he doesn’t do his job, but you know it’s a very positive environment for him that he’s dealing with people on a daily basis and he’s dealing with young people that are a lot younger than he is.”

Every day after work Raupp goes to the gym or tennis practice at Boar’s Head Sport Club to work with his current tennis coach Ron Manilla and his physical trainer Mitchell Frank. Manilla helped coach Raupp and his former doubles partner John Fried to victory in Seattle and will continue to be Raupp’s coach, as Manilla was selected as one of the four USA tennis coaches for the World Games. 

Manilla has known Raupp and his parents, Lloyd and Sue Raupp, for many years because of Raupp’s involvement in the United States Tennis Association but began directly coaching Raupp only about a year ago. 

“The nicest thing about all of this for me is I’ve grown close to Chris, and we’ve become good friends,” Manilla said. “He’s probably one of the most gracious sportsmanship players I’ve ever been around and that just says so much about him.” 

Special Olympic athletes are unbelievable, according to Manilla. He believes they’re the kindest, friendliest, most outgoing and have the best sportsmanship that one could ever hope to see. 

Raupp listed multiple reasons for his passion for tennis.

“I’m good at it.” Raupp said. “It makes me focus. I’ve made a lot of friends playing social tennis as well as USTA tennis.”

Special Olympics Area Three Coordinator, Rose Ann Gamma, also speaks to Raupp’s high level of sportsmanship.

“He’s not out for the gold — I mean obviously he wants to win — but he’s not just out for the winning purpose,” Gamma said. “He’s out for the sport and to be there with the rest of his teammates.”

Gamma has had the privilege to work with Raupp for roughly 10 years and not only seen him excel in tennis but also in the many other sports he plays. Like Manilla, Gamma was also a part of the Virginia Delegation that went to the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games this past July. 

Raupp was also honored by Aramark CEO Eric Foss at an event in Boca Raton, Fla. as one of 200 employees out of 270,000 employees worldwide to receive the Ring of Stars award. Criteria for the award include service to the client base, dedication to the team and service to the community. In addition to naming Raupp as a recipient of the award, Aramark headquarters also donated $5,000 in his name to Special Olympics.

Heather Poulson, an executive chef of Newcomb dining hall, was the other honoree.

Outside of work and tennis, Raupp loves to support his favorite student athletes by attending University athletic events such as football, basketball and tennis. In fact, the Raupps have been long-time the University’s women’s basketball season ticket holders.

Through Raupp’s work at the U.Va. dining hall and his outstanding performance on the tennis court, he has distinguished himself as a respected figure in the Charlottesville community.