USTA Florida President’s Message: Memories from the Membership Booth
By USTA Florida President and volunteer Nancy Horowitz
Hope everyone is doing well. I wanted to take a moment to make you all aware of things that occurred after spending time in the USTA booth during the Delray Beach Open, which has brought back so many wonderful memories because of the people that stopped by.
They were there to either renew memberships, ask questions for their children, or grandchildren; questions about leagues, or where to play, or just to converse. Or maybe people come by to see what we are giving away, but the one thing they all, we all, have in common is the game of tennis.
It unites people, and stories are shared. Many of our members have amazing backgrounds and expertise, and we need to utilize these people to achieve our goals. We need to have these people who share the love of the game involved more often, if possible, to spread the word of why tennis is so important on so many levels.
There are many types of volunteers: the long-term volunteer, the short-term volunteer, the episodic or one-time volunteer, transitional volunteer, workplace volunteer, and several others. Trends are changing just like the world has changed. Life happens and people are very busy, and time is limited.
All of us together need to be open to change and respect the limitations that people have. That is why we all need to be tennis public relations people to work together to keep broadening our volunteer base. With the USTA National Campus, the new home of American tennis coming to Florida, it is an exciting time and we need to continue making an impact with progressive and innovative thinking.
Being named the USTA Section of the Year by Tennis Industry magazine showed that together we can achieve anything. A vision is a detailed sense of the future, with both excitement and purpose. The Florida Section’s vision, built by staff and volunteers, over the years has made us outstanding and exceptional. No vision or ideal is impossible to reach, and with discussion and improving communication we will continue to lead and achieve. Staff and volunteers are partners that need to complement each other and respect the needs and abilities of each other, and these are the reasons Florida works so well together.
Thanks to all of you for your time, ideas and commitment to Florida tennis — it is so appreciated. Over the years I have been exposed to so many wonderful speakers, philosophies and quotes. So as I conclude this message, I hope you make a difference in your world with this wonderful quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Ft. Myers’ Special Send-Off for Special Olympics Tennis State Participants
USTA Florida volunteer and Three Oaks Tennis Center Director of Tennis Sibo Kangwa spearheaded a Special Olympics tennis practice and send-off event for 11 Special Olympics tennis players in the Ft. Myers area that will be competing at the Florida Special Olympics Summer Games next month.
“We organized a practice for them because they are going to play at the state games in Orlando starting May 20-21,” Kangwa said. “Special thanks to the Special Olympics committee and the volunteers, the LCCTA and especially Lyn Bruner, and the tennis pros that came out to help with the practice.”
The Special Olympics athletes were also assisted by and got to hit with the Fort Myers High School and Canterbury School tennis teams, which were the recent boys and girls district champions.
Special Olympics tennis athletes David Johnson, Grant Hampton, Kristen Barrows, Greta Foye, Elizabeth Figura, Teddy Figura, Jeanette Reilly, Mike Oatley, Stephanie Pappas, Gyula Papolczy and Jeffery “Bootie” Hollatz will compete at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando in May.
The event featured a DJ and ended with a dance-off and refreshments.
“Special thanks to Ron Riis the DJ, Costco for drinks and fruit, and Will Prather of Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre for the great food,” Kangwa said. “Also to tennis pros Patrick and Stephen Kangwa, Connie Fox, Mark Nunnely and Katie Unsworth who came out to help with the practice.”
For more info on Ft. Myers-area Special Olympics tennis go to www.leecountytennis.com/pages/index.cfm?siteid=15418.
MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation Names $10K Scholar Award for Alumnus Cleveland Browns’ Kaleb Johnson
The MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation of Jacksonville, Fla., has announced a new scholarship, the Kaleb Johnson Scholar Award, named for the program alumnus who currently plays for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
Johnson, who signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens last year before signing with the Browns, was an early member of the MWYF’s TnT (Tennis & Tutoring) program located in the urban core community of Durkeeville in Jacksonville. He played football locally at Ed White High School and started all four years at Rutgers University. He will graduate from Rutgers University with a degree in psychology this May.
The Kaleb Johnson Scholar Award is a competitive opportunity for male students in grades 8-11. Qualifications include maintaining a 3.0 GPA through high school and a community service component, including mentoring a younger student in the TnT program. Winners will be announced on May 19, 2016, and a total of $10,000 will be awarded.
Johnson fondly remembers his time as a program member in elementary and early middle school. He returned last spring and summer while training to give back to the program during the off season, mentoring young boys, tutoring and hosting football clinics, as well as playing a little tennis.
“It was definitely a different perspective coming back as an adult,” Johnson said. “The level of commitment the staff and volunteers have for helping kids succeed is amazing and I wanted to be able to help contribute to the success of young people, particularly young men.”
Johnson will also personally mentor the scholarship recipient. The scholarship is presented as a partnership with funding from the Delores Barr Weaver Fund. Mrs. Weaver was randomly matched with Kaleb through MWYF’s “Sponsor a Champion” program in the early 2000s and the two reconnected last summer.
The MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation is an official USTA Florida Community Tennis Association and a USTA National Junior Tennis & Learning network (NJTL), one of more than 500 non-profit youth development organizations that provide free or low-cost tennis and education programming to more than 225,000 under-resourced youth. MWYF promotes academic achievement and uses tennis to engage students in an active and fun youth development program.
For more info go to www.malwashington.com.