Hi Everyone! I hope you are all having a great spring season wherever you are located. I am very excited that I was selected to be a new national board member for the USPTA. As a former president of the Florida Division, I have a strong feeling for what the organization needs in the future and I also knew we already had a very strong, experienced and diverse board that is going to lead us through some interesting yet challenging times.
Gary Trost, our new president, has assigned all of the board members different committees and tasks for 2018. I have been put in charge of heading up both the Awards and the Diversity and Inclusion Committees. Having served on both of these committees previously, I understand the importance of picking strong and dedicated committee members as well as those professionals with diverse ethnic backgrounds and more importantly, from different divisions in the organization.
Our goal for the Awards Committee is to first increase the number of professionals nominated in each category. Second, with the help of staff in the national office, we have streamlined the nominating procedures and the committee selection process. We have also highlighted the fact that the Alex Gordan Professional of the Year Award starting with the 2017 nominations was to be selected for only his or her activities and achievement during that previous calendar year. This then elevates the status of the George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award to the standard it deserved which was to salute a professional who has contributed greatly to the USPTA and tennis throughout their career. We are also happy that we can acknowledge the U30 group, as we on the board feel very strongly that these professionals will be our future leaders. We are encouraging them to participate in various USPTA activities both nationally and in their divisions.
The Awards Committee members meet on conference calls to review all the nominations for each award. Then, we meet for two days to make our final decisions in each category. I wish to thank all the previous Awards Committee members as this is not an easy task. We receive so many bios and nominations from some incredible pros, that it is an arduous process to select winners in each category
For our Diversity Committee, our goals are fairly simple but sometimes hard to achieve very quickly. We feel the USPTA has come a long way with regards to diversity, but we are still very low in our number of women members at 20 percent. The number of women who participate in our national tournaments and who attend conventions and division conferences is even smaller. We encourage each division to hold a Women’s Meeting or social get together so that they have a platform to discuss their issues. We also encourage all divisions to ensure that our presenters at all conferences are a diverse group.
All our national committees must have at least one U30 member participating. John Embree, Gary Trost, Fred Viancos and I are also reaching out to the other women’s coaching organizations so that they know we support them and their commitment to tennis. Each division has a D&I liaison and I want to make sure they are checking their membership to ensure that they are doing as much as they can to create a welcoming environment for all new applicants, many of whom are women and of diverse cultures.
The other part of our D&I goal is to make sure our professionals are reaching out in their own communities to bring tennis to various multicultural groups and lower income families who may not have access to the sport. We currently are doing a good job in many divisions with the Special Olympics, Aces for Autism, First Serve- Pal and many other special needs programs.
I welcome any comments and suggestions for both committees and our goals for the upcoming year. I look forward to meeting all of you at division conferences and the Tennis Teachers Conference in New York which is our World Conference for 2018.