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

Megan Gunderson

Rahhel Haile

Ilse Larsen

Anne Cullen Miller

Linda Sauber

Marc Stingley

Bo Vue

Stephen Warch

Gregg Wong

(Ex-Officio)

Saint Paul Urban Tennis 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 a non Saint Paul Public School (SPPS). 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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Sophie Kuether

Co-President

Non SPPS Representative: Columbia Heights High School

Sophie Kuether is a sophomore at Columbia Heights. This is her first year on the youth council representing non SPPS schools. She is a captain of the girls tennis team, as well as a concert band and concert choir student, an avid member of the theater community in Columbia Heights, as well as a member of various clubs including the speech team, Key Club, and the poetry club. Sophie began her participation with SPUT in her elementary school years and did SPUT's JTT program in 2019, joining Warrior Leadership Academy (WLA) shortly after that. Since being in WLA, Sophie became a part of the Youth Social Entrepreneurship program and is currently a founding member of SPUT's online store. Sophie also found her first job through SPUT, becoming a coach in the summer 2020 lessons and camps. Sophie's goal on the youth council is to amplify the voices of Warriors to create a better culture in the community.

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Dylan Pham

Treasurer

Non SPPS Representative: Mahtomedi High School

Dylan Pham is a sophomore at Mahtomedi high school. This is his second year in the Warrior Leadership Academy (WLA)  program and his fifth year being involved with SPUT. He was first introduced to SPUT because his parents wanted him to have a place to play in the summer that was fun! Dylan’s goal is to make SPUT and WLA more well-known and give more kids the opportunity to learn and grow through the game of tennis.

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Yeng Lai Thao

Johnson Aerospace & Engineering High School

This is Yeng Lai’s first year getting involved on the Youth Council. She goes to Johnson Senior High School and is the captain of the girl’s tennis team. She also enjoys playing badminton and volleyball. In Yeng Lai’s free time, she enjoys doing activities like photography, cooking/baking, dancing, and writing music. She was first introduced to SPUT and Warriors by her coaches, managers, and brother. She joined hoping to improve and see drastic changes in her skill level and meet new people with the same interests. Yeng Lai’s goal on the Youth Council is to guarantee that everyone feels welcomed and that they can grow together as a community.

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Jimmy Chang

Co-President

Harding Senior High School

Jimmy Chang is entering his first year on the youth council. He goes to Harding Highschool, has been playing tennis for three years and joined SPUT in 2019. Jimmy’s goal for the youth council is to make sure everyone feels as safe and comfortable as they do within their own home. He thinks of SPUT as more than just a tennis program, but a program for growth and effort.

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Kao Kia Lee

Historian

Harding Senior High School

Kao Kia Lee is a senior at Harding Senior High School. She was a captain on the girl’s tennis team and has been with SPUT for four years. In 2018 Kao Kia joined Warrior Leadership Academy and in the summer of 2020 she participated in Junior Tennis Team. This is her first year on the youth council and her goal is to make people feel safe with being who they are.

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Htoo Say

Humboldt Senior High School

Htoo Say is a senior this year and will be graduating from Humboldt high school and from Saint Paul College. She feels that SPUT has been a place where she can learn new skills and improve. Htoo Say  is proud to be a part of SPUT. This is her second year of being part of the Warrior Leadership Academy program and the youth council.

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Emma Clift

Secretary

Central Senior High School

Emma Clift is entering her first year on the Youth Council. Emma is a junior at Central High School where she is a captain on the varsity tennis team. She is also a part of NHS, multiple student lead clubs, and the school symphonic and jazz band. Emma joined SPUT back in 2008 as a youth player through summer lessons and has progressed to be an assistant coach. Her goal on the youth council is to make sure everyone feels included and welcomed.

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Tyler Nelson

Highland Park Senior High School

Tyler Nelson is going into his first year on the youth council. He attends Highland Park Senior High and is a sophomore. Tyler plays hockey, tennis, and runs cross-country. He was first introduced to SPUT as a volunteer coach in the summer of 2019, and became an assistant coach summer of 2020. This is also Tyler’s first year with Warrior Leadership Academy. His goal on the youth council is to listen to what other Warrior’s say and feel about the program, and work to make fair changes to make the program even better.

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Aidan Reynolds

Como Park Senior High School

Aidan Reynolds is serving on the Youth Council for his third year. He is a senior at Como Park Senior High School where he is a third-term captain of the boy's tennis team and 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. He recently worked as an assistant coach in the summer of 2019. As a member of the youth council, he is able to offer his years of experience in order to help provide the youth of St. Paul and beyond with a welcoming, engaging community.