Townsend Steward Staff Writer
Jacob Bushey Editor
Haiden Widener Editor
|PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SIRI SELLE|
The Teach Me Tennis Cup is raised in celebration by the winning team. Teach Me Tennis uses creative games and competitions to teach young children tennis.
The Rome Tennis Center at Berry College is offering a new program called Teach Me Tennis, where Berry students, faculty and alumni help coach young tennis players.
The program gives the people of Rome a chance to come together and create a sense of community and is a way for elementary students to learn tennis, a sport they can play for life. The program includes six schools in Floyd County and the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Georgia. It gives children the opportunity to learn tennis in a fun and affordable way. The cost is $55 a session for students, which includes the cost for their own tennis racquet.
The program does not teach tennis to children in a traditional way, but uses a unique methodology. They break up full courts into smaller courts, allowing more children to play at the same time.
Over the course of its first four years, Teach Me Tennis has had over 1000 kids participate in their program. They offer both spring and fall programs, and between 150 to 200 kids participate in each session.
They also send the three main directors to teach local P.E. teachers their methods of instruction so that kids can continue being taught after the program ends. At the end of each six-week session, all the schools come together for a large tournament.
The final tournament is not a traditional style tennis tournament. Each player is on a team, and they play on the mini tennis courts. Whichever player scores five points first gets the opportunity to hit a tennis ball through a hula-hoop that’s on the other side of the net. If they get the ball through the hoop, that is one point for their team. The team who finishes with the most points wins The Teach Me Tennis Cup, and gets to display their success in their school or organization.
Director Logan Yerby, a Berry alumnus, is very proud of the accomplishments of Teach Me Tennis, and is following the program’s main goal: to get a racquet in every kid’s hand.
“We’re not trying to make superstars,” Yerby said. “We just want to show them a new sport that they can play for lifetime.”
The program has a direct tie with Berry College through David Elmer, assistant professor of kinesiology. He teaches a motor learning and development class that is a part of the kinesiology program. The students in the class volunteer at the different schools and help coordinate and run the drills for Teach Me Tennis.
Elmer believes that Teach Me Tennis could reach a new level with the help of Berry students.
“More volunteers could help the program accomplish what they want to accomplish,” he said.
There have been a lot of Berry students that have helped, but some have bonded strongly with the program. Senior Kelly Ibele has been volunteering with Teach Me Tennis for two semesters. Her first semester, she was an assistant coach. The next semester she served as a coach at Darlington School. Ibele loved the experience and won’t forget the unity of the program. She encourages students to volunteer even if they aren’t enrolled in Elmer’s class.
“It’s awesome to see these kids getting really into it, being active and participating on a team,” Ibele said. “Everyone was cheering each other on, and the sense of community was awesome. Many people from the Rome community come out to support the teams.”
With more volunteers, there is opportunity for one-on-one instruction with the kids. The tournament at the end of each semester needs a large amount of volunteers. The tournament this spring will be held Sunday, April 9 at 2:30 p.m. If you are interested in volunteering as a coach or entering as a participant in the tournament, visit teachmetennis.org.