Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders: USTA Southern's NJTL Girls' Program Pilots

May 20, 2024
Share this post

In the heart of Georgia, a movement was underway to empower young girls through tennis and leadership development. Spearheaded and supported by the Southern Tennis Foundation, five NJTL Chapters embarked on a groundbreaking pilot program aimed at nurturing the potential of girls aged 11-18, fostering leadership skills, and keeping them actively involved with tennis.

With a vision to instill confidence, leadership development, and a passion for tennis, each chapter set out on a six-week journey of transformation. Under the guidance of dedicated female instructors or volunteers, and armed with resources provided by the Southern Tennis Foundation, including the Women's Sports Foundation leadership curriculum and tennis equipment, the girls delved into a world of opportunity.

The program's structure was carefully crafted to maximize impact. Weekly one-hour sessions became a sanctuary for growth, where a maximum of 12 girls per program could thrive. The Southern Tennis Foundation's support, including stipends for coaches and healthy snacks, ensured that every participant had the resources they needed to succeed.

Measurement and evaluation were key components of the pilot program. Pre and post-program surveys allowed organizers to gauge the impact on educational and tennis performance, while tracking the number of girls completing the entire program provided invaluable insights into its effectiveness.

As the pilot drew to a close, the results spoke volumes. Thirty-six girls, spanning five chapters, had embarked on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Through surveys and testimonials, the impact of the program became evident.

From improving tennis skills to fostering leadership qualities, the girls' goals were as diverse as they were ambitious. Their voices echoed the transformative power of the program:

"It impacted me because now I have the confidence to start a conversation with someone new, I've become more social, and I've learned to take on a leadership role." - South Atlanta Community Tennis Association Participant

"This program has impacted me as an athlete because now I understand the importance of focusing on whatever I do. It has taught me to be confident when leading others and has shown me the necessity of putting in hard work without taking shortcuts." - South Atlanta Community Tennis Association Participant

"This program helped me open up, establish connections within my community, and improve my mindset for approaching games." - South Clayton Community Tennis Association Participant

"This program has impacted me both as a person and as an athlete by fostering a deeper understanding of myself and my teammates. While many of them are individuals I've played with, and will continue to play with, for a long time, it wasn't until now that we sat down and truly connected. For instance, several teammates from my high school team not only motivated me during practice but also provided invaluable guidance to enhance my chances when applying for opportunities. Additionally, discussing the challenges of balancing academics with tennis with peers who share similar experiences has equipped me with numerous practical tips to optimize my time on and off the court. Most importantly, the program has bolstered my self-confidence as an athlete. Through reflective discussions on our progress, guided by my teammates, I have realized that I have come a long way and worked hard to be where I am today." - South Clayton Community Tennis Association Participant

The success of the pilot program resonated not only with the participants but also with the chapters involved. As one leader aptly put it, the program allowed the girls to feel "extra special" and provided a platform for shared experiences and growth.

The impact of the USTA Southern's NJTL Girls' Program is undeniable. With continued support and dedication, the program is poised to shape the leaders of tomorrow, both on and off the court. As these girls continue to grow and excel, they will carry with them the lessons learned and the confidence gained, becoming beacons of inspiration for generations to come.

Share this post