Kids, families, and athletics
Most kids love sports or, at the very least, enjoy some type of physical activity. Since we all understand its importance to a thriving body, a movement-centric pastime is a key factor in overall health. For many children, this is pursued through the mainstream sports organizations in which they participate. But there are many who feel lost in the shuffle of large teams on a huge field. In addition, these sports do little to directly involve parents in the actual activity. Their roles become those of support volunteers or sideline cheerleaders. However, anyone who has seen young children interact with adults knows that they would prefer their moms, dads, guardians, or even grandparents to participate with them.
This is where we make our mark. We offer the lifetime sport called tennis, which research has shown to be one of the healthiest physical activities available, we make it kid-sized, and we do it in a recreational environment. Our brand, Gotta Play Tennis Kids, utilizes public park tennis courts and, unlike other sports, provides all of the necessary equipment. These factors keep costs low and family friendly. The adults are directly involved with their children so that they can help provide guidance while developing their own skills. This supports our long-term goals of having families engage in tennis experiences beyond our time together on the court. They also share in the fun and family camaraderie as part of our skill-based games in our supportive and no-pressure environment during the very active sessions we plan for each week.
What people think
Parent feedback has shown this style of athletics to be well received:
"This has been the first athletic program that actively involved the parents."
"Great participation for the entire family! We'll be signing up again!"
"Coaches Ron and Trish were absolutely amazing! It was my daughters first time attending this camp. I was blown away by how they taught the children."
"The whole experience for both kids AND adults was great! Looking forward to doing it again."
"Gotta Play Tennis is by far the best tennis program I have seen for kids in the area. Kylie has done a couple others a few years ago, and they do not compare."
"I have been playing and coaching various sports for over 20 years at the youth, high school and collegiate level and I must say that this was one of the most well-organized and fun experience I have ever had."
And it's not just parents who believe in us. The United States Tennis Association (USTA), NJ Middle States section, presented Gotta Play Tennis with its Organization of the Year award (non-commercial) for our efforts in the tennis community in 2014.
We honestly think that we can make a significant impact on family involvement in sports while giving kids a great and healthy option to pursue both recreationally, with family and friends, and on subsequent high school and college teams if desired. For most that have gone through our programs, this was their first exposure to tennis. But with so many kids flocking in droves to soccer, baseball, and other more parent supported and publicised non-lifetime sports, we struggle to maintain this kind of service to the community and their children. The kids and the parents are there, but we need your help to spread the word and make additional extended offerings to attract and accommodate many more children.
The Challenges and Goals
Our goal is to achieve greater parity with other sports by offering, in addition to our current introductory sessions, the kinds of competitive opportunities and team-spirit building currently not available to young tennis children in our extended community due to lack of available funding. We have self-promoted and funded all of our programs for many years–purchasing much of the necessary equipment, attending workshops, developing programming, maintaining the logistical management, marketing and promoting sessions– and for this, we only require a small registration fee for each student who participates. Parent involvement is at no additional charge, and the only thing we ask people to bring is a beverage for their child(ren) and themselves. Due to weather restrictions of rain, cold and snow in New Jersey, we can also only offer a limited number of weeks per year outdoors. We simply cannot cover
indoor facilities court fees and expect to keep the programs economical for the masses. This creates large gaps in service, and our season can only take advantage of a fraction of the calendar. Since we have not been able to draw the numbers of children that offset our insurance costs, membership and certification fees, travel, and investment in time and equipment, we are in danger of being forced to reconsider the viability of offering future programs. This would leave the community with higher-priced tennis clubs as their only option (with no such unique family-friendly court programs available).
Here is some of what we aspire to achieve through your generous contributions:
• Expand age brackets to include 11- 14’s (previously only 5-10)
• Expand programs to include various progressive levels (i.e. Level I Beginner to Level II Player)
• Subsidize low-registration sessions so they need not be canceled due to low numbers of participants
• Provide competitive opportunities that utilize small intramural teams in order to teach tennis tactics and strategies as well as team spirit and camaraderie
• Distribute team jerseys to identify individual teams in competition (small teams of 4-6 members)
• Purchase trophies and provide appropriate awards, prizes, and incentives for different levels of achievement
• Be able to pursue broader marketing strategies in order to reach a larger audience
• Purchase additional new equipment, and repair, replace, or update existing equipment
• Have funding to hire (per-diem) assistance with setup, breakdown, and on-court organization for each session
• Provide more FREE outreach to the community that represents our available programs and offer FREE entry to those with financial limitations
• Take advantage of multiple vendor events, that require entrance fees, in order to gain more visibility
• Be able to attend ongoing training workshops and sessions that provide both professional growth and inspiration
• Begin the development of a Junior Instructors program to groom the next generation of those who can follow in our footsteps
• Have the ability to properly thank those who have assisted us with our programs through small gifts or giveaways
These are a few of our goals as we move into the new year of 2019 and the exciting and productive tennis season ahead. Since much of the brainstorming, scheduling, and planning phase for the spring season takes place during the cold east coast winter, we need your support as soon as you can make funds available.
We know that giving is not easy, and we understand there are many causes desiring your financial assistance. However, I have learned one very important rule in life: if you do not ask, you do not get. We, my wife Trish and I, have never asked for funds to either keep our programs alive or expand them, and I currently have been bringing tennis to children for over 30 years. But we are now asking you to help us continue to distribute the positive message and benefits that the lifetime sport of tennis provides to the families of today and the future family leaders of tomorrow. Let's make a difference together!
Ron and Trish Miller
Gotta Play Tennis
Gotta Play Tennis Kids
Sharing the love of tennis with families of all generations
-Former certified NJ School Teacher K-8
-Professional Tennis Registry (PTR)
certified instructor in Junior Development
-Podcaster-GottaPlayTennis on iTunes
-Father, Grandfather, and tennis fan
Head Coach at Gotta Play Tennis Kids
-Workshop trained in QuickStart format tennis
-Group teacher certified
-Former Girl Scout leader
-Former nursery school Center Trainer and Camp Planner
-Mother, Grandmother, and tennis fan
Assistant Coach at Gotta Play Tennis Kids