Military Kids Learn Tennis and Leadership with
"Boots on the Court"
By Mark Vlahos
On October 14th, The San Antonio Tennis Association, Inc. (SATA) teamed with the USO to support former tennis pro Dick Stockton’s Blue Sky Foundation, a non-profit organization that draws on the power of tennis to conduct charity events throughout the world. One of the foundation’s major initiatives is called “Boots on the Court,” with Stockton and his colleagues staging tennis events at military bases. Recently, San Antonio’s Randolph Air Force Base was the lucky recipient of the foundation’s goodwill.
A typical “Boots on the Court” event will have as many as 100 participants – children, parents and adults, all engaged with clinics, drills, games and more. “It’s great to see kids engaged in tennis this way,” says Alan Waterman, center operations supervisor, USO San Antonio. “You see how people are enjoying themselves, getting involved in the sport, lots of smiles. I’ve been to a few clinics in my day, but this is really special to see someone like Dick coming to our base.” The USO provided a free lunch to clinic participants and SATA provided 14 tennis racquets and other tennis equipment to be handed out as prizes at the event. The synergy of these three organizations coming together produced a fantastic event our military community will remember for a long time!
At 66 years old, Stockton remains fit, graced with the deft volleys, feel and all-court command that over the course of a 15-year pro career helped him win eight ATP World Tour singles titles, represent the US in Davis Cup and reach a career-high ranking of #8 in the world in 1977. “Boots on the Court” events draw on a wide range of resources, ranging from Stockton’s wife Liz to his former Trinity University teammate, ex-pro Brian Gottfried, to a wide range of tennis aficionados, current members of the Trinity tennis team, and local teaching pros who volunteer to help stage each event. Stockton and his teaching team see these events as a way to “give back” to military members and their families, who preserve the freedoms our nation enjoys.
“Tennis brings people together,” says Stockton. The kids and parents fully appreciate all the enjoyment that can be had on the tennis court. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get involved in something that’s healthy and you can play your whole life."
"There’s a lot of stress in the military,” says Waterman, “so to do this on a base is very nice.”
SATA is already planning to team with Dick for next year’s event in San Antonio and hopes to widen participation to all three major military installations in the city. Dick is considering holding the 2018 event at a central location like McFarlin Tennis Center, the gemstone of our city.
To learn more about "Boots on the Court" visit http://www.theblueskyfoundation.com/