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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Ava Gross

Communications Coordinator

Driven by her passion for volunteerism and non-profit organizations, Ava is joining the Saint Paul Urban Tennis team as our Communications Coordinator. Growing up in the small, northern Minnesota town of Warroad, Ava discovered that she had a passion for storytelling. After attending Warroad High School, she went on to study at Gustavus Adolphus College where she obtained her degree in Communication Studies. It was in one of her classes at Gustavus that Ava honed in on her enthusiasm for the nonprofit world; she co-founded a 501(c)3 organization in her local high school centered around the issue of food insecurity. Since then, she has been motivated by her desire to help others. Ava was drawn to SPUT because of its community-centered approach and overwhelming passion for teaching, mentoring and employing kids. Before accepting this position, she held the title of Marketing Manager for RCH Home and Design in Detroit Lakes, MN. In her free time, Ava enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, singing, acting and cheering on the Green Bay Packers.

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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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Vilai Vang

Eastview Recreation Center Manager

Vilai began his journey with SPUT in high school when his coach, Koua Yang, asked him and his teammates if they would be interested in a summer job as a tennis coach. Knowing nothing about coaching at the time, Vilai thought it would be an excellent opportunity to play tennis and make money. Since then, he has been coaching for SPUT on a part-time basis. Vilai graduated from Harding High School in 2006 and then attended the University of Minnesota Duluth for Mechanical Engineering. Before accepting the SPUT position, he worked for Affinity Plus as a Technical Analyst (IT) for seven years. While he loved his job there, Vilai’s true passion is tennis and helping others. Vilai loves SPUT because of its youth center focus that strives to teach tennis and equip kids with life and leadership skills.

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Tom Boulay

Program Specialist 

Tom Boulay inadvertently began working with SPUT in 2008 when he volunteered to help out at one of the 3-hour winter practices that Song Thao, SPUT’s current Executive Director, was working all by himself. Since then, Tom has been a champion for SPUT’s winter tennis program and dedicates himself to the kids every year. Tom grew up in Edina, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. degree in Secondary Education. Tom has served as a USPTA Teaching Tennis Professional, coached the Stillwater Girls Tennis team since 2010, and been a foundational member of SPUT. He owns his own promotions company, Thunderbird Marketing, which sells branded merchandise to corporations and non-profit organizations. Tom has been instrumental in starting the Warrior Leadership Academy back in 2013 and creating Discover U, the beginning of SPUT’s Leadership/Life Skills Mentorship program. He strives to build world-class tennis and leadership programs for SPUT, saying that his primary goal is to help SPUT’s exceptional young people become successful in their lives.

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

Poem Vang

Summer Program Coordinator

Dave Kuether

Adult Lesson Coordinator

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:

Collyn Iblings

President

Emily Blodgett

Vice President

Noah Lipschultz

Vice President

Julian Dehn

Treasurer

Marc Stingley

Secretary

Anne Cullen Miller

Linda Sauber

Stephen Warch

Ilse Larsen

Rahhel Haile

Marti Estey

I Jin Lee

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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Emma Clift

Central High School

Secretary

Emma Clift is entering her second year on the youth council. Emma is a senior at Central High School where she is a captain for the girls' varsity tennis and badminton teams. Additionally, Emma plays the alto saxophone in Central's jazz band, orchestra, and symphonic band. Emma has participated in SPUT youth lessons throughout elementary and middle school and has been a part of Warrior Leadership Academy since 2018. Her goal on the youth council is to help make everyone feel included, welcomed, and supported in the community.

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Romeo Sheen

Johnson Senior High School

I am a senior at Johnson Senior High, and I have never been on the SPUT Youth Council. I started playing tennis in freshman year and haven’t stopped since. I first started getting involved with SPUT in the summer off 2019 when I did JTT. I enjoy playing multiple sports, the major ones being tennis and soccer. I did JTT again in the summer of 2021, and worked as an assistance coach for SPUT through Right Track at the same time. I became a Warrior in the winter of 2021, oh yeah. My experience with SPUT was a lot of fun and I want to make SPUT enjoyable for everyone.

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Nhia Lee

Harding Senior High School

Vice President

Hi my name is Nhia Lee and I’m a senior at Harding High School and I am currently the captain for the Harding tennis team. This is my first year being on youth council. I have been playing tennis for three years and I have been involved with SPUT for three years now. My goal for Warrior Leadership Academy is to make it a safe and fun place for everyone. I want to make this year a fun and interesting year. I also want WLA to be well-known because this is a opportunity for families to get their children court time to play tennis and get them involved in the East side community. I wish the best to the players and families and lets make this a fun year. 

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Sophie Kuether

Columbia Heights High School

President

Sophie Kuether is a Junior at Columbia Heights. This is her second on the youth council representing non SPPS schools, and she was Co-President last year. She is also 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, and well as a member of various clubs including the speech team, Key Club, and the poetry club. Sophie has made it to state for Poetry interpretation on her speech team, and won first in state, qualifying for nationals in Poetry Out Loud through her 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 was 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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Ywa Eh Hso

Humboldt Senior High School

Treasurer

I am a senior at Humboldt High School. My first job was at SPUT working as an assistant coach through Right Track in 2019. I joined the Humboldt girls tennis team that fall and continue to work as an employee at Employment Plus, a sub-employment of SPUT. This is my second year of WLA and it is my first year to be in Youth Council. I am also part of Humboldt's NHS. For me, SPUT is a place where not only people can learn and enjoy playing tennis but also get the opportunities to grow by being part of the community and the learning lifeskills with the subprogram and workshops that SPUT provides.

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Quang Bui

Como Park Senior High School

My name is Quang Bui. I am a senior at Como Park High School and also a soldier of the Army National Guard. I have played tennis since my freshman year and still keep going up. I was a manager of the Como Girl tennis team for 2 years. I am excited to be in my first year on the youth council. I enjoy some activities like swimming, photography, and watching professional tennis. My favorite player is Andrey Rublev. I have joined SPUT since 2019 by my coach, also my math teacher and I am so thankful to everyone who voted me for the youth council this year. My goal is to learn everything from SPUT that helps me to develop myself more and to help others.

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Vivian Her

Harding Senior High School

Hi my name is Vivian Her.  I am a sophomore at Harding High School and currently captain of the girls Harding tennis team.  I like to listen to music and journal when I’m not on court.  This is my first year on the student council.  I have been involved with SPUT since I was 8.  I want to make SPUT a safe environment to feel vulnerable but to also have lots of fun.