Board and Staff

Saint Paul Urban Tennis Staff

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Song Thao

Executive Director

Song began his journey with SPUT in high school as a coach at our Harding site.  There he fell in love with the program (and with tennis) and went on to play tennis at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, MN.  He would come back each summer to take to the courts of Saint Paul and bring on the next generation of SPUT players. Thao said of his own coaching experience: “I learned that I needed to demonstrate the values I was teaching the kids in the program. Kids are incredibly honest and when you don’t do what you ask kids to do, they’ll call you out,” he said. “Teaching SPUT values every summer made me think more about how I’m demonstrating them in my own life, especially how I conducted myself around others.” In the years after college, Song worked at InnerCity Tennis (a tennis non-profit in Minneapolis) and, later, Hmong American Partnership.  His experience in tennis and non-profit development are exciting additions to SPUT’s leadership.

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Courtney Place

Communications Coordinator

Courtney joined Saint Paul Urban Tennis as the Communications Coordinator in January 2020 after growing the Her Next Play organization’s social media and brand. She fell in love with sports and excelled in high school at a very young age. Courtney went on to play volleyball at Augustana University, received her media degree, and became a female athlete advocate through her online campaign, SEE US Movement. As an All-American volleyball player, children’s book author, and sports fanatic, Courtney is excited to give kids the opportunity of learning important life skills through sports. 

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Laura Fedock

Associate Director

Laura joined the SPUT team in December of 2015 after managing student services, programs, events and marketing communications at the diverse Minneapolis Community and Technical College. A Des Moines, Iowa native, she played tennis for Hoover High School and attended the University of Iowa—a proud Hawkeye. She spent her early summers teaching tennis to youth and adults and managing a city park site for the Des Moines Tennis Association. She also taught youth tennis for the University of Iowa’s Upward Bound Program and played on a USTA Women’s Team Tennis team for several years in Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Iowa. Before moving to Minnesota, Laura promoted the achievements of K-12 students at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland as Director of Public Affairs. Laura lives with husband, Bill, and son, Andrew, in Burnsville.

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Brandon Kuether

Tennis Program Manager

Brandon's SPUT journey began when he joined the staff as a head coach in 2014. As a standout staff member earning the Rookie Coach of Year Award, he has since seen his role continue to grow as an intern, coordinator, and starting in 2018 the Tennis Program Manager. Originally from Columbia Heights, Minnesota, Brandon moved to Saint Paul once he moved on campus at Hamline University, and hasn't left since. A Piper graduate in 2018, Brandon received a degree in Sociology and Elementary Education. A former captain of the Hamline Tennis Team, Brandon's passion for tennis continues to grow and develop as he is now a certified teaching professional through USPTA as well as PTR. Brandon is excited to continue to use the power of sport to teach life and leadership skills to the young minds of Saint Paul.

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Josh Hansen-Connell

Program Director

Josh comes into St. Paul Urban Tennis from a background in teaching, having taught in St. Paul for 3 years and studied Social Studies Education at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Since discovering tennis at age 13, Josh has been enamored with the sport. Having attended Tennis and Life Camps in high school, he learned the strong connection tennis has with important life skills. He would go on to state in doubles, become president of the club tennis team at Gustavus, and a tennis instructor at Tennis and Life Camps. Josh joined SPUT as a head coach in 2015 and fell in love with the values of SPUT SPIRIT as well as using tennis as a venue to positively impact people’s lives. Since then has continued to grow his role in the organization as operations coordinator and now program manager of outreach and education. Josh is excited to bring together his experience in education, love of tennis, and commitment to the St. Paul community.

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Thony Thao

Community Engagement and

Recreation Manager

Thony started with Saint Paul Urban Tennis when he was twelve after following his brother to one of the SPUT summer lessons at Dayton’s Bluff. From there he knew tennis was going to play a vital part in his life. After Thony graduated from Harding High School, he went to the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. During his last two years, Thony was introduced to recreation-based work starting with campus recreation. He went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Recreation Management at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. Thony finished his Master’s in May of 2019 while interning with St. Paul Parks and Recreation. He then interned with SPUT for seven weeks working directly with the previous Community Engagement Manager and SPUT team. Since then he has worked as the Sports Director for the White Bear YMCA, overseeing the sports program. Thony is thrilled to come back to his hometown and use his skills, experience, and tennis knowledge as a tool to water the next generation so that they can bloom and find their path through SPUT as he did.

Program Coordinators

SPUT programs are lead by a mix of teachers, certified tennis teaching professionals, and high school/college students (age 16-25). We intentionally recruit, train and support over 70 student workers to coach with us in the summer months. Our team of trainers and program coordinators that supervise youth workers and manage programs include:

Koua Yang

Summer Program Coordinator

Ayoub Nigatu

Summer Program Coordinator

Ricky Moua

Summer Program Coordinator

Dave Kuether

Adult Lesson Coordinator

Tom Boulay

Program Specialist

Board of Directors

The success of any non-profit organization is largely due to the strength and ongoing support of it's leadership.  SPUT is no exception to this rule. We are fortunate to have a dedicated volunteer board that invests time, talent and resources to making SPUT successful. Members include:

Emily Blodgett

President

Noah Lipschultz

Vice President

Julian Dehn

Treasurer

Collyn Iblings

Secretary

Janelle Cameron

Megan Gunderson

Rahhel Haile

Anne Cullen Miller

Quoc Bao Nguyen

Katie Resch

Linda Sauber

Marc Stingley

Bo Vue

Stephen Warch

Gregg Wong

Youth Council

The Saint Paul Urban Tennis Youth Council is made up of one representative from each Saint Paul Public School, and two representatives from non-Saint Paul Public schools. The purpose of this group is to directly engage the youth of our community in the process of planning in order to have our programming better serve kids.

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Amanye Reynolds

Senior - Harding Senior High School

President

Amanye Reynolds is a senior at Harding High School and is a second-year captain of the tennis team. She is also part of National Honor Society, Student Council, and College Possible. She is the Youth Council’s President and is starting her third year on the Council. Amanye joined SPUT back in 2006 as a player. She first began giving back to the program by becoming a reading volunteer in the summer of 2016. Amanye increased her involvement with the program when she started coaching the following year in summer of 2017. Amanye is now able to advocate for her peers through the Youth Council. Her goal is to “vocalize the youth perspective so the administrative team is aware of needs and can adapt to all players."

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Mai Xee Lee

Senior - Highland Park Senior High School

Vice President

Mai Xee Lee is entering her third year on the Youth Council. She is a senior at Highland Park Senior High where she plays on the varsity tennis team. Mai Xee is also a member of NHS and Asian Culture Club at school. She started taking tennis lessons with SPUT in the summer of 2017 after working in the SPUT office, and continues to stay involved in SPUT through the Employment PLUS program. Mai Xee’s goal on the youth council is “to improve programming with the power of youth voice.”

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Tania Acevedo Garcia

Senior - Washington Technology and Magnet School

Secretary

Tania is entering her second year on the Youth Council. Tania is a senior at Washington Technology Magnet where she plays on the varsity tennis team. Tania is also a member of NHS and WEB at school. Tania joined SPUT in 2018 as a Warrior Leader Academy participant and continued to get involved by joining the Employment PLUS program, summer program coaching, and Junior Tennis Team. Tania’s goal on the youth council is to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

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Aidan Reynolds

Junior - Como Park Senior High School

Treasurer

Aidan Reynolds is serving on the Youth Council for his second year. He is a junior at Como Park Senior High School where he is serving as a second-term captain of the tennis team and is a member of NHS. Aidan started his journey with SPUT in 2008 as a youth player and has participated in the organization for over ten years, most recently working as an assistant coach in 2019. As a member of the Youth Council, he is able to directly advise SPUT by offering a different perspective in order to achieve his goal of providing the youth of Saint Paul with a welcoming, engaging, and safe community.

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Vilai Her

Senior - Harding Senior High School

Vilai Her is entering his first year on the Youth Council. Vilai is currently a senior at Harding High School and is a two-time captain on the tennis team. Vilai joined SPUT back in summer of  2017 as a player for the Harding JTT Team and became a SPUT coach two years later. Vilai has now become a part of the SPUT program Employment PLUS. His goal on the youth council is to provide a voice for the Warriors in the program.

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Htoo Say

Junior - Humboldt Secondary School

Htoo Say is entering in her first year as a Youth Council member. She is part of NHS, Upward bound and PSEO. This is her first year with SPUT and she’s very excited to get to know everyone. Through the Youth Council, she wants to represent Humboldt and speak for their students. Htoo is looking forward to her leadership role.

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Julie Nguyen

Junior - Woodbury High School

Historian

Julie Nguyen has been involved with SPUT for two years. She joined the summer tennis program and played for the JTT team, which led to her involvement with the Warrior program. This is Julie’s second year as a non-St. Paul school representative. Outside of SPUT she is involved in her church, the track team at school, the Woodbury High School student council, and many other clubs. Julie’s goal as a representative is to make sure everyone has a voice and can express their opinions freely and comfortably.

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Robert Lee

Senior - Johnson Aerospace & Engineering High School

Robert Lee is a first year representative for Johnson High School. Robert is familiar with leadership roles in tennis, as he is also a senior captain for the Johnson tennis team. With this being Robert’s first year involved with SPUT programming and on the Youth Council, he is “looking forward for a big change and outcome” for himself. His goal in this new role is to collaborate with all members and give good feedback to assist in making the program more successful.

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Jerusalem Thao

Senior - Mounds Park Academy

Jerusalem Thao is entering his first year on the Youth Council. Jerusalem currently attends Mounds Park Academy and represents his high school tennis team as the captain. Jerusalem joined SPUT back in 2012 as a player, and is currently in the Employment PLUS program. His goal on the Youth Council is to “provide a voice for the youth in the program."

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Htoo Ku Paw

Senior - Central Senior High School

Htoo Paw is entering her first year on the Youth Council.  Htoo goes to Central High School and plays for the varsity tennis team. She is a member of College Possible and AVID. Htoo joined SPUT in the summer of 2018 as tennis assistant coach. She then participated in the Warrior Leadership Academy (WLA) during the winter and played for SPUTniks in the summer. Htoo is also part of the Employment PLUS program. Outside of SPUT, she is involved with church activities. Her goal on the Youth Council is to “make sure that the warriors feel welcome and to improve my leadership skills.”