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USTA Florida’s mission is “to promote and develop tennis for all.” As a core value, we believe in providing opportunities for everyone to participate in the game of tennis, regardless of skill, age, physical ability, gender, ethnicity, economic background or sexual orientation. As Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the Florida tennis community.

We want to introduce you to Edgar Pabon, the Health and Physical Education Specialist for the Duval County School District. The 48-year-old also serves as the Vice President of the Physical Education Division of SHAPE Florida, and in 2018 received SHAPE Florida’s Educational Leadership Award for his outstanding performance. Pabon was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and currently resides in Jacksonville.

Edgar Pabone

What do you do as the Health and Physical Education Specialist for the Duval County School District?

The main portion of my work revolves around providing curriculum and instruction support to Health and Physical Education teachers in Duval County Schools. I also help develop and maintain relationships with community organizations and state/national initiatives.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Spending time with children and helping them learn new skills.

Why do you believe tennis is a sport that should be introduced in schools?

Tennis is a lifetime type of sport. It provides people an opportunity to stay active throughout their life. By introducing kids to tennis early on, we can best promote a healthy habit that could become an important part of their lives as adults.

What do you think are the benefits of tennis for students?

Besides the gross motor development, tennis can help with social/emotional health as well as the promotion of physical activity for a lifetime of physical health.

Do you play tennis yourself? If so, how did you get involved?

I am a sporadic tennis player and became involved after taking a class in college.

What do you enjoy most about the sport?

It gets me to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity without thinking about all the work.

What is your heritage?

My family and I are from Puerto Rico.

Why is celebrating Hispanic heritage important to you?

One of the best ways for the overall community to achieve acceptance is to learn from each other’s cultural heritage. By celebrating Hispanic heritage, I have a platform to start the conversation.

How has your Hispanic heritage inspired you?

My Hispanic heritage brings me joy in the form of music, food and a way of looking at the world that keeps me happy.

Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in general, as well as in tennis?

As our society continues to grow into a more diverse and accepting community, the celebration of heritage serves as a way to learn more about each other while strengthening individuals’ notions about themselves.

Why is it important to not only support and celebrate other cultures, but be inclusive to all?

There cannot be true equality if we are not willing to be inclusive. We fear what we don’t know, and I aim to do my part in ending ignorance about other people’s culture.

If you had to share your message of unity, what would it be?

In learning about what makes us different we are better able to recognize how much alike we are.

To learn more about USTA Florida’s diversity initiatives, click here.