Arlington Katherine Kasischke, Girl Scout with Troop 4009 in Arlington decided to share her enthusiasm for tennis with students at Drew Model Elementary School in south Arlington for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project.
During May and June 2012 she provided a free tennis clinic after school to students in grades 3 through 5. Katherine said the goal of her project was “to introduce tennis to children who otherwise might not have access to private instruction and to promote physical fitness. Playing tennis on a regular basis can reduce stress, improve personal confidence, and improve academic performance in school. Tennis is a fun sport which can improve your overall health and can be played your whole life.”
A senior in the countywide H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, Katherine played on her neighborhood Wakefield High School Varsity Girls’ Tennis Team for the past two years. She noticed that the skill level was quite varied, not only on her team but across the teams in Arlington. This gave her the idea to share her enthusiasm, knowledge, and love of tennis with children in south Arlington who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate and learn the sport.
The tennis clinic consisted of six one-hour lessons after school. Although Drew does not have tennis courts, Katherine was able to use pop-up nets and balls loaned by FirstServe Tennis to give instruction on the basketball court. “The interest in the free tennis clinic was tremendous,” said her troop leader Crystal Kleitz, and with 22 students she had “almost three times the number of students as she had originally planned.”
The students exhibited much enthusiasm for learning the sport and by the last class Katherine said they were asking “if there were still more tennis skills I could teach them.” Katherine recruited several assistants to help her including another girl from the Wakefield Varsity Girls’ Tennis Team. The students learned basic skills and strokes such as the volley, the ready position, the forehand and backhand ground strokes, and how to serve. On the last day they had a mini-Olympics which included playing the popular “King of the Court” game.
Katherine used money raised through Girl Scout cookie sales, pet sitting, and donations to provide each student with a junior sized tennis racquet, a set of three tennis balls for ages 10 and under, and a tennis medal on the last day of the clinic. This fall, as the final phase of her project, Katherine used money she raised to donate $1,200 to the Drew Model Elementary School PTA for a special Tennis Scholarship Fund to be used for future after-school enrichment programs in tennis instruction at Drew Model School.