Make Tennis More than Just a Game
By Christine Gaspar
Posted April 24, 2018
We all want to contribute to our community in a meaningful way. Whether it’s serving food at a homeless shelter, cleaning up the beaches or helping with a fundraiser, giving back is good! Helping others not only makes lives better, it can also provide us with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. With that in mind, why not let your passion for tennis guide your volunteerism?
By giving your time and resources to organizations that incorporate tennis as part of their mission, you can make the sport more than just a small part of your everyday life. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Take stock of your personal skill set. Ask yourself what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. Do you like to work with children? Are you a good writer? Maybe you have website design or marketing expertise. Once you’ve identified your skills and interests, you can then begin to search for volunteer opportunities — and there are many to be found — sometimes right within your own club.
For example, if you like to work with children, ask the Director of Tennis if he or she needs assistance with their junior development program. If you like writing, try helping with the club’s newsletter or press releases. If you’re social-media savvy or have website design knowledge, you can offer to promote club news and information through their social media platforms, or to give their website a fresh, new look.
In Southern Connecticut, there are a wealth of opportunities to volunteer. Click on any of the highlighted links below to get more information about specific programs and their volunteer needs.
- The USTA Foundation created the National Junior Tennis and Learning Network (NJTL), which advises and supports hundreds of community service organizations throughout the country that provide “free or low-cost tennis and education programming to more than 225,000 under-resourced youth“. In nearby towns, Danbury Grassroots Academy,Stamford Youth Tennis Academy, Norwalk Grassroots Tennis & Education, and First Serve Bridgeport are all organizations that provide after-school tutoring, life skills training, and tennis instruction for under-served youth.
- First Serve Bridgeport has an immediate need for an on-court assistant to the Head Pro this spring at Glenwood Park and Greens Farms Academy — contact them if you can help!
- Volunteer opportunities also abound at the different levels (national, regional, and state) of the USTA organization. At USTA New England, for instance, board and committee positions are available every year for a wide range of interests ranging from Tennis in the Parks to the Finance committee.
- Finally, there are plenty of private organizations, camps, clubs, schools, and events that need one-off volunteers in addition to regular ongoing help throughout the year. Check out an event such as the annual Connecticut Open, where you can drive a golf cart to transport professional players around the venue, or sign up your teenager to be a ball girl.
CHARITABLE GIVING OPPORTUNITIES
Another effective way to give back to the sport you love is to participate in tennis-based charity events sponsored by non-profit organizations. You might also consider giving monetary donations to help fund their operations.
Here are 2 local organizations (both are listed with the USTA NJTL network) whose upcoming spring fundraisers support their mission of providing tennis instruction and educational assistance in their communities:
There are also a number of tennis fundraising events that support specific causes locally. Here are some recent examples:
- A Weston high school graduate has raised over $26k by organizing an annual round-robin tennis social which raises money for Ovarian cancer research. Although this particular event already took place in March, you can still donate to this worthy cause — Hit Ovarian Hard.
- Last autumn, there was a tennis fundraising event for the Prospector Theater in Ridgefield, which provides “meaningful employment to people with disabilities through the operation of a premium, first-run movie theater”.
- A nearby church offered a morning of outdoor tennis instruction, followed by round robin doubles and a luncheon at a beautiful country club.
Keep your eyes open for similar enjoyable events that raise critical funds for these local organizations.
Finally, special mention must be made of Danbury Grassroots Academy (DGA) and its ties to Four Seasons. Take a look at their video and learn how this award-winning program uses their community volunteers and partners to make a profound and positive impact on local kids’ lives.
In their January 2018 Newsletter, DGA announced a charity golf outing for this fall, as well as a need for college and career mentors to guide their students. Maybe you didn’t realize that the donation bin at the entrance of Four Seasons is for DGA? At your next home match, why not suggest to your team that players each bring a new water bottle to add to the DGA collection box?
You can support and learn even more about each organization discussed above by visiting their website and following them on social media.
TENNIS MATTERS BEYOND THE COURT
Those of us who have made tennis an important part of our lives are well aware of and grateful for all the sport has given us. Use your love of tennis to connect with those in need and you’ll discover that tennis can be much, much more than just a game. By offering up your time, skills, and financial support, you’ll reap the immeasurable benefits that come from having a direct and meaningful impact on the lives of others on and off the court. ~
Christine Gaspar is a USTA 3.0 rated player working hard to get to the next level. A graduate of Wellesley College, Christine continued her education earning M.A. and PhD degrees from Brown University. Christine is currently playing on 4 USTA teams, co-captaining a women’s 3.0 40+ team and volunteering her off court time to the USTA New England Public Relations Committee.