Issue: April 2008
The popular sports in the LaFayette Central School District have long been lacrosse and softball. But that’s changing. Students are increasingly trading sticks and gloves for rackets.
“Tennis is a great alternative,” says, Chris Homer, an art teacher at the Onondaga Nation School who is encouraging the tennis movement among American Indian students. “It boosts energy and dexterity.”
Never mind that the school has no courts.
“We set up in our gym, and before we got the nets we used our volleyball nets,” explains Homer, who admits, “I was a softball girl until tennis came a year ago.”
Tennis came to the Onondaga Nation School, which runs kindergarten through eighth grade, one year ago thanks to a grant that came through an unlikely source: Dr. Jennifer Kagan, a literacy professor at SUNY-Oswego.
Kagan, a tennis enthusiast, was teaching literacy in the after-school program during the summer and introduced the students to tennis. Pretty soon, a grant was awarded, and funds were used to purchase rackets, balls and mini-court nets. Syracuse University women’s head coach, Luke Jensen, a French Open doubles champ, and assistant coach Shelly George, helped kick off the program last summer.
“If it wasn’t for Jen we wouldn’t have tennis,” Homer says. “She did spark tennis here.”