‘Safety First’ As SPUT Delights Kids with Abbreviated Summer Tennis Lesson Program

Saint Paul Urban Tennis is grateful for the support of so many parents and donors who made it possible for SPUT kids to enjoy summer tennis during this unique season. After creating a detailed safety plan and training more than 40 high school and college-age coaches, SPUT offered an abbreviated Summer Program for 322 kids and 129 high school Junior Team Tennis and SPUTniks players in June and July. Below is a picture of our mighty coach coordinating team.

“We kept numbers down to ensure social distancing, invested a great deal of time in educating coaches, and asked for family support,” said Program Director Josh Connell. “During a time when young people are losing out on countless relationships and experiences, it was great to see our coaches  work hard at bridging those gaps.” SPUT has received many kind words over the summer, including this note from an Edgcumbe Park parent of two young kids:

“…your program has sparked a true excitement about tennis in our family. We have been so desperate for activity during this pandemic and our usual summer activities were not available this year. Even though neither kid has expressed interest in tennis before, I signed them up. They both thought it was so much fun and want to continue playing. My husband and I are getting rackets so we can start playing as a family.” 

Free SPUT Tennis Camps Provide Safe, Healthy, Extended Summer Activity for St. Paul Kids              

With lesson programs and Junior Team Tennis wrapping up at the end of July, SPUT continues to offer healthy physical activity for kids, with five, free, one-week tennis camps offered in August. Camps combine tennis lessons with Academic Creative Engagement (ACE) components (math, reading and writing tied to tennis) at Eastview, Baker Rec Center, Rice Rec Center, Martin Luther King Rec Center and Carty Park. 

Work Has Begun on Five New Tennis Courts at Eastview (SPUT Headquarters)

It’s not just a rumor—five new tennis courts are under construction at Eastview Rec Center (home of Saint Paul Urban Tennis) and scheduled for completion in August.  SPUT’s presence at Eastview continues to provide safe space—both indoors and outdoors– for east St. Paul youth to participate in healthy, physical activity. Many thanks to the City of St. Paul for recently completing a beautiful new playground in front of our rec center building! As SPUT nears our 30th anniversary year, we are excited about all the ways our organization can continue to contribute  to the community.

SPUT Youth Entrepreneurs Launch First-Ever Online SPUT Store

While many activities hit the pandemic “pause” button last spring, six SPUT high school players teamed up off the court to start a business! SPUT Warrior Leadership Academy members Tony Wang, Sophie Kuether, Hunter Lo, Emma Clift, Ashley Nguyen and Charlie Gerteis launched the first-ever online SPUT Store, while learning various aspects of business and entrepreneurship in the process.

“It’s been great watching these kids work as a team to build a business,” said Tom Boulay, SPUT staff coordinator of the SPUT Store project. “They are smart kids who are open to suggestions. They worked hard to get the project started and then they just took the ball and ran with it.”

Boulay, who also works in apparel sales and marketing, helped the young entrepreneurs learn about many basic business practices, from how to determine cost-to-goods sold and gross margin, to how to market products. SPUT intern and Warrior alumni Frankie Lee helped develop and lead the curriculum.

SPUT SPIRIT Spiral Candles: students selected colors and scents and designed product packaging. (Candles are available in Balsam Cedar, Apple Peel, and Lily & Hyacinth).

SPUT Activewear and Loungewear: SPUT founders chose apparel styles and colors and how apparel would be embroidered with the SPUT logo.

Clarity Collective: Central High School student Tony Wang designed this new apparel brand for St. Paul youth, including style, logo and graphics.

SPUT entrepreneurs will earn a commission from each sale and will donate 10% of profits to help cities affected by the recent riots. “This has been an amazing opportunity for us to grow as leaders and contributors to our community,” said founder Sophie Kuether. Items can be purchased at sputstore.com. through Wednesday, August 5.

Tennis Camp Collaboration To Help Middle School Girls Learn Leadership Skills, Build Self-Confidence

With little sports programming offered for middle school girls in the Twin Cities, SPUT is working with The Fort, InnerCity Tennis, USTA Northern and nonprofit Her Next Play on a Middle School Girls Tennis and Leadership Camp. The camp is designed to create a community for middle school girls, keep them in tennis programs, and encourage them to advance in the sport. Coordinating the camp is Amanye Reynolds, a SPUT player since age 5 and a 2020 Harding High School graduate who is gaining valuable leadership skills while working with SPUT staff and camp partners. Eighteen middle school girls will have tennis instruction on the Harding High School courts, with off-court workshops provided by staff from Tennis and Life Camps/Gustavus Adolphus College Center for Inclusive Excellence, and Her Next Play, a nonprofit whose mission is to develop the next generation of women leaders through sports.

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