Community service is engrained in the identity of the Midwestern State Women’s Tennis program. The Mustangs have actively volunteered in Wichita Falls, Texas for the last 10 years.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association and the Division II Awards Committee recognized the program’s commitment to community service and awarded Midwestern State the national ITA Community Service Award for Division II Women.
The program recorded 290 volunteer hours over the course of the 2019-20 season. Activities ranged from middle school tennis clinics to Habitat for Humanity to Meals on Wheels. However, Head Coach Scott Linn points to the reading program with Haynes Northwest Academy as the heart of their community service.
The opportunity to work with elementary students one-on-one came from another Midwestern State student-athlete – MSU Football alumnus Marcus Mathis. Mathis worked at Kate Burgess Elementary at the time and suggested that Linn start to have his tennis program volunteer with the reading program. Years after the Mustangs first got involved with the reading program, Mathis took a job at Haynes Northwest Academy. Linn and his team followed Mathis to the new school.
Haynes Northwest Academy is an elementary school in Wichita Falls whose students are largely economically disadvantaged. The school has an established weekly reading program for students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade with the goal being all 4th graders are able to “read to learn” instead of “learning to read.”
Through the reading program, the Midwestern State Women’s Tennis team is able to connect with young children in the Wichita Falls community in a one-on-one manner. The student-athletes are able to become role models for the students they read to each week.
“Within the community, college athletes can make a positive impact as role models,” Linn explained. “This is a unique time in their life where young people and older people really look to student-athletes as role models in their local communities. Our student-athletes need to know that their value is not solely based on their on court success or classroom success. They need to know that they can make an impact giving to others in multiple ways.”
Linn hopes that the hours spent volunteering as a Mustang will translate into a way of life for his student-athletes even after they finish their degree.