By Ronald Lyons, USTA Florida DEI Coordinator
USTA Florida continues to make strides as part of its Amplify initiative to help establish a more inclusive environment for our predominately Black communities across the state. In 2021, the initiative was integral in bringing tennis programming to communities that had not had those opportunities in the past, creating a level of exposure that has led to more diverse groups having access to a sport.
“The Amplify team has come a long way since our inception. Throughout 2021, we were able to find our identity as a team and refine our mission,” said team member Magali Holt, USTA Florida’s Community Play Coordinator. “Despite some limitations due to the pandemic, our team was able to host our first annual Juneteenth Slam event in Gainesville followed by a very successful beginner tennis program to engage the Black community there. We hope to host more Amplify community tennis events and beginner tennis programs throughout the state in 2022.”
A major focus in 2022, the Amplify initiative aims to provide staff training and education, new tennis programming and more diverse partnerships. Building partnerships with diverse organizations and forming new tennis programs ultimately guarantees more Black people will be exposed to the sport of tennis and could encourage and inspire other diverse communities to play tennis.
“Amplify was a much-needed addition in driving USTA Florida’s mission to promote tennis for all,” added team member Desirae McLaughlin, USTA Florida’s Adult Team Play Manager. “What started as a space to express shared concerns and experiences of Black players and coaches has transformed into a vehicle to deliver true change for the better. We have been able to turn our ideas into action which has directly benefitted our community.”
It’s not just about play opportunities either – USTA Florida’s Amplify Initiative is also forging career opportunities. In 2021, the Amplify Internship Program was created to provide college students with ethnically diverse backgrounds the opportunity to gain knowledge on how staff within the organization grow the game of tennis in our local communities. The interns focus heavily on staff development trainings, event management and professional development.
“I have been most excited about the internship program that we established,” shared McLaughlin. “This program has provided an opportunity for diverse students to learn how a non-profit operates at a high level and I am so excited to see where the internship progresses in 2022.”
In 2022, USTA Florida staff trainings on racial inequality will be a focal point for the Amplify team to ensure the organization’s knowledge on these topics continually progresses. Another big focus this year will be supporting our Black coaches and working alongside industry partners to provide those coaches with various resources so they can stay informed and widen their skillset within the professional Florida tennis community.
USTA Florida’s Amplify team has taken steps that stand to make an impact change in our Florida community for years to come. While what we’ve accomplished already can be applauded, we still have work to do to ensure growth that can ultimately resolve the lack of diversity in our Florida tennis ecosystem.
USTA Florida believes tennis is for everyone. For more information about USTA Florida’s Amplify initiative, visit USTAFlorida.com/Amplify.