By the spring of my senior year in college, I knew that I was going to take a gap year in my education before pursuing a career in healthcare. I considered a variety of different jobs in different industries, but when I came across the Tennis for America program listing on the AmeriCorps VISTA site, I saw it as an incredible opportunity to do something meaningful in my time off and give back to others through the game that has given me so much. A few months later, I was moving across the country from Philadelphia to California to begin my role at Youth Tennis San Diego.
I’m only four months into my year-long term, but already I have met so many inspiring and passionate individuals and learned much about the scope and impact tennis can make at the community and individual levels. My supervisor, Ryan Redondo, and my co-workers, Noelle, Steve, Lindsey, Raiff, and others have made the transition to San Diego seamless and have helped me feel right at home here. Their enthusiasm for YTSD’s mission of giving kids opportunities to play tennis and develop essential life skills is so evident in all they do.
At Youth Tennis San Diego (YTSD), my main roles involve grant-writing, creating databases to track and collect information about our outreach tennis programs, organizing events for our kids, and traveling to visit our program sites all around San Diego County! Visiting our After School Tennis sites and meeting the coaches and players is probably one of my favorite parts of the job. Listening to their stories and hearing how much they enjoy tennis really motivates me in this role.
In addition to my on-site work, Tennis for America has provided me with amazing networking and leadership opportunities. Recently, I was able to represent YTSD at the USTA Foundation’s Impact Conference, where I attended workshops and seminars about nonprofit management, leadership development, addressing trauma in sports, and nationwide initiatives through the USTA’s NJTL network. I met so many amazing people involved in bringing tennis to more kids all around the country and even got to meet Chris Evert!
It’s been a very active four months at YTSD as, in addition to our 90+ outreach programs, our site has hosted the Billie Jean King Girls’ National Championships, the San Diego Open ATP 250 and WTA 500 events, and our annual fundraising charity gala. I am especially proud of the free San Diego Open Kids’ Day event we organized for our outreach program participants.
In addition to the connections and insights I’ve gained within the tennis world, I love that my work relates to my long-term career interests in healthcare. Some of the most important components of improving health are environmental security and healthy lifestyles, both of which my work with Tennis for America and YTSD addresses.
I am very grateful for this opportunity and am excited to see what the rest of this year will bring!