Pay It Forward – Help Keep Batman Safe This Summer

Meet Matthew “Batman” Batmunkh… he needs your help right now!

Batman Footwork Shadow Swing.jpg
“Tennis Makes Me Happy!”- Batman

The harsh reality is that without your help batman becomes severely at risk to face the high rates of obesity, poor mental health and is more likely to become one of the 49% of students who have tried drugs or 61% of students who have tried alcohol*.

Batman’s Story (so far):

The Batmunkh family migrated to the U.S. in 1999 due to the uncertain political climate in Mongolia and to provide a better future for their children.

Batman picked up his first racket at age 7 and his father who was a circus performer in Mongolia recognized over time that this was his passion.

Unfortunately, sports is expensive and the barrier to entry is an un-attainable financial task for Mr. and Mr’s B. They need your help!

The harsh reality is that without your help batman becomes severely at risk to face the high rates of obesity, poor mental health and is more likely to become one of the 49% of students who have tried drugs or 61% of students who have tried alcohol*.

Batman is asking for help to stay active this summer by participating in 9 weeks of full day summer tennis camp ($462 / week).

To read more about Batman story , click here http://ow.ly/7DWP30aFIrb

Click here to support https://www.razoo.com/story/Help-Batman

#HATFundstories

For Media Enquiries:

Raghav Kohli

raghav.kohli18@gmail.com

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John Lutaaya- NOW is the START

When John was 9, he started as a ball boy at Lugogo Tennis Club in Kampala. It was a chance to earn some money and to be around what he loved… sport. The ITF Development Program that aims to ensure tennis at the highest level involves many nations. In 2009, an initiative focused on offering young people living amongst the ghettos in Kampala, Uganda, offered an unsuspecting young man the chance of a lifetime.

john mothers

One fateful day, Dr. Liz Odera, Director and Head Tennis Professional, Sadili Tennis Academy, selected him and 5 other students to play tennis. She encouraged John to focus on tennis and his education.

After a year of hard work and dedication to both sport and education, John was awarded a scholarship to the Sadili Tennis Academy, part of the Malezi School located in Kitui Ndogo Slum, Nairobi County.

Eventually, his hard work paid off and the East Africa ITF called on him to play tennis on behalf of Uganda in East Africa U12. “My first year I played nationals… I was ranked #3 in singles and #1 in doubles over the next three consecutive years!” John proudly recalls. He shone as a star in that tournament.

Unfortunately, Uganda was dropped from the ITF Development Program due to membership debts, leaving young aspiring players with a feeling of uncertainty and fear as they desperately attempted to cling to the fleeting opportunities available for a chance at a better life.

Despite such a predicament, John remained at Sadili Tennis Academy, and started looking for other sources of funding in Nairobi. His days there were very hard; his daily reality included a struggle to purchase food. He faced so much uncertainty for his future, and was only able to return home to visit with his family once each year due to the expenses. John needed ongoing support and reached out to John Nagenda, one of the advisors to the President of Uganda, and somehow convinced him to provide resources for his day-to-day needs. Mr. Nagenda became John’s savior during those times.

Although John now had his basic day-to-day subsistence needs met, he lacked assistance to continue his education. The average school fee for non-government secondary schools in Uganda is 300000UGX ($88USD) per term, a number unattainable by most of the poverty stricken families. However, in 2007, the Government of Uganda introduced free Secondary Education but the students would have to pay 100000UGX ($29USD) per term for basic amenities like uniforms, meals and stationery supplies. The unfortunate reality remains that the standard of education in government schools versus non-government schools differs vastly, and the majority of young people yearn to study in non- government programs.

Devastated by his circumstances, John was not able to find funds for school. He went to home schooling for 4 years after primary school because it was cheap and offered more time for tennis training. Teachers from Malezi School would come and teach students for 5 hours a day. Dr. Odera kindly sponsored John and several other students allowing them to share books. The long-term effects of this reality seemed insurmountable…

John was never able to take the exams required to continue his education at the university level in Uganda. Even if he had been able to take the exams, John knew the University fees were far too high for him to afford. On average, a student has to pay 4500000UGX ($1,315USD) per semester to enroll in University. John struggled for the 15000UGX ($4.5USD) needed everyday for his 3 meager meals and to pay for his transport to play tennis.

John’s mother always encouraged him to go to school and she urged him to create opportunities for his future because she was not able to provide for him, as she had wanted. She was not able to complete her secondary education. John’s father did indeed go to University but lived as a polygamist leaving his mother to raise John and his sister. While growing up, the family struggled day to day. John remembers Christmas day to be very special because his mom would save all year to provide John and his siblings with some new clothes.

He was given the opportunity to work part-time at Sadili Tennis Academy as a tennis coach, lifeguard, and on the maintenance staff in order to support himself and help to support his family. He would send close to half of his earnings, 100000UGX ($29USD) to his mother in Uganda. After taking care of his modest needs, he would save close to 50000UGX ($15USD) for his future.

John soon realized that one of the best things about Sadili Tennis Academy is that they have built relationships with coaches all over the world. With continued encouragement from his family, John pleaded with officials at Sadili Tennis Academy to help with any further opportunities for him, so that eventually he might travel to the United States and make a better future for himself and his community in Uganda. Sadili recommended him to a program in South Carolina.

William Blick, President of the Uganda Olympic Committee had taken notice of John and his talent. Mr. Blick set to work raising $1,000 for the travel expenses that would allow John to go to the United States to train. This experience would allow him to continue growing as a tennis player and pursue his academic goals. John eventually settled in South Carolina where Coach Jon Prenelle encouraged John to work hard and pursue his dream of going to college.

John indeed worked very hard to learn, improve and create new opportunities for himself. He trained day and night but unfortunately, not a single opportunity came to him in those three months in South Carolina. His training ended and he was to go back home to Uganda. In desperation he asked Coach Prenelle if it would be possible to extend his stay. Coach Prenelle called Ryan Segelke, his friend and CEO/Co-Founder of High Altitude Tennis, LLC in Colorado, and asked if he could help in any way. Later that evening, Ryan spoke to his wife, Leslie Segelke, Founder and Executive Director of The HAT FUND and just like that, John found himself on a plane to Colorado.

Training at High Altitude Tennis Academy provided another level of tennis training and experience for John. “This is the place where I have heard information that is not common to the many places I have been to. It is always more than tennis at HAT because I even learn stuff outside tennis and this creates success both off and on the court,” explains John.

Mr. and Mrs. Segelke worked with John to create an action plan that would lead to fulfillment of his dream. First of all, John needed to take the SAT exam, an essential step on his road to a college scholarship in the U.S. HAT arranged for John to work with a tutor and Susie Watts of College Connection donated her time end expertise to work with John.

John felt he was back in school again, as his tutors would direct him and lead him through his studies. Preparing for the SAT was not easy as the grammar taught in the United States was very different from that taught in Uganda. He indeed struggled with the studies but his tutors never gave up on him.

HAT arranged for John to visit several Colorado Universities. 
 Upon his visit to Colorado Christian University, John felt an
immediate connection. He felt like the environment at CCU was calling out to him and this was a huge motivation. With true enthusiasm he devoted more time and more focus toward his goals.

John was extremely excited to meet John Goodrich, the Head Tennis Coach at CCU. Coach Goodrich was the first college coach he had ever met and actually spoken to in person about the possibility of playing tennis on their team. He was glad that John found him. John regularly updated Coach Goodrich about his progress, as he was afraid he would change his mind about having him on the team. John had experienced many disappointments in his life but he was overjoyed by the coach’s reassurance.

HAT created a second family for John. His new teammates and their families in Colorado spent time with him on and off the court. He started to make friends in order to feel at home. He began opening up with them more and more, so that they could know him and he could know them. Being there never felt foreign to him, as he had the place to share his stories, and traditions from back home.

John’s dream became a great inspiration for the entire HAT family. They rallied around him offering support however and whenever they could. The HAT Staff made sure John had everything he needed to feel secure and be able to focus on his training and studies. Mr. Segelke worked closely with CCU to complete the requirements for admission. The HAT FUND provided John with the funds to travel back and forth to Uganda in order to satisfy all of the immigration requirements. Even Mr. Sadu, father of one of his teammates, after seeing him struggling with his preparation for the SAT offered to spend extra time working with John in his studies. A true team effort!

The road to his dream of a college education will continue to be difficult. However, John will not face these difficulties alone. The HAT FUND and its partners will continue to support John and the many other deserving young people struggling to change the course of their lives.

The HAT Fund has changed my life, I will be forever grateful,” says John. In the fall of 2016, John will hopefully be starting college. For his goal to be accomplished, he needs your support.

Join us in offering children the power to transform their lives through sport and education.

Learn more about John:

http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_28985827/world-away-from-home

http://www.thehatfund.org/tennis-phenoms-education-dream-hinges-on-test/

Be a support to John by becoming a part of John Lutaaya’s #GivingTuesday Campaign. Here’s the link, https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Hat-Fund

#WeeklyReview

This week The HAT Fund Charity event was officially Announced.

Presentation Performances by Keith Knight- nationally syndicated, award winning artist, local music performances by LeAnn Ferrell & Travis Paul – #HAT4Charity.

For tickets, http://www.eventbee.com/v/hatfundcharityeventpassthehat

PASSTHEHAT
The 1st ever HAT Annual Charity Event in Denver, Colorado.

I believe HAT is definitely a hidden gem on a national scale

Starting this week, every Monday we will be giving the spotlight to one of our Staff members who, inch by inch gives their full support to our organization. They will also be sharing their experience among the younger generations. This week we are highlighting the profile of Brian Lindberg – HAT Tennis Teaching Professional.

Brian Lindberg- HAT Tennis Teaching Professional
Brian Lindberg- HAT Tennis Teaching Professional

Brian Lindberg is originally from Colorado and started playing tennis at the age of 5 years old. Brian developed into an elite junior player in Minnesota eventually achieving a college scholarship to the College of St. Scholastica where he was selected to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference All-Conference team for both athletics and academics.

Brian completed his internship at High Altitude Tennis in 2013 and soon after was awarded the Men’s and Women’s coaching job at Ripon College in the fall of 2013. Realizing his passion was in helping top junior scholars learn the life lessons required to be successful at the collegiate level and beyond, he returned to High Altitude Tennis in 2015. Brian loves photography and climbing 14ers. He also has earned the nickname “storm” for his very accurate weather reports.

Brian’s View on HAT:

“I believe HAT is definitely a hidden gem on a national scale.  The system that is taught here, the strength training and conditioning, and the individualized attention given to every student combines to offer a level of improvement unparalleled by other programs in the nation.  I’ve not only seen our system work here but also in my time teaching in Wisconsin.  The HAT method is capable of holding its own at every level of the game.  The HAT Fund is a great compliment to HAT as well allowing juniors access to a program like ours that they might not have otherwise had.

HAT Fund Event Series HF Community Development BOSTON

The Hat Fund, Inc
The Hat Fund, Inc

Boston, Massachusetts: The HAT Fund will be hosting a series of Meet-and-Greet Fundraisers in major cities throughout the U.S. in 2015 and have scheduled one for Tuesday, July 21, 5:30 – 7:30 pm at Stella Restaurant, 1525 Washington Street in Boston’s South End.

The HAT Fund is dedicated to creating pathways to success through sports and education by assisting underserved aspiring young scholar athletes to ensure that they have the opportunities, guidance and tools to flourish on and off the court. Leslie Segelke, co-owner with her husband Ryan of High Altitude Tennis in Parker, Colorado, founded the HAT Fund.

“I’ve recognized the students we work with in addition to being passionate, driven athletes are burgeoning young leaders eager to learn what is necessary to take full advantage of life’s opportunities”, states Leslie. “I’ve also felt the frustration of being unable to help so many kids with that glimmer in their eye…wanting so desperately to be given the best chance to succeed…and willing to make the sacrifices that great success requires. That frustration, or the unwillingness to give in to obstacles, gave life to the HAT Fund.”

To help make this fundraiser available to everyone interested, the cost of admission is $20, which includes one complimentary beverage, hors d’oeuvres and great company. Raffle tickets will also be sold at the door for $5 each for the chance to win 2 box seat tickets to the 2016 ATP Tour at the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. There will also be a silent auction where attendees can bid on sports memorabilia, restaurant gift certificates and exciting other gift items. A short presentation about the HAT Fund will be included, but the evening is more about meeting other tennis and sports minded people in the Boston area.

To date, HAT has donated more than $75,000 to provide scholarships and educational resources for up-and-coming junior tennis players from around the world.

For additional information about the Boston Meet- and-Greet, please contact:

Ryan Segelke at ryan@highaltitudetennis.com or Gary Briggs at gbriggs@auntsadiesinc.com.

For information about the HAT FUND, please contact Leslie Segelke at leslies@thehatfund.org.

The HAT FUND, INC is a recognized 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

Event Date: JULY 21, 2015 5:30pm-7:30pm

Venue: STELLA RESTAURANT

For Tickets, Click here http://www.eventbee.com/v/hfeventboston

Hurray! The Summer Camp Season is here

As we all know that summer has come and its the month of June when most of the kids are looking out for a place to cool off. This is the only time when there is a need to learn extra curriculum activities. Here, where High Altitude Tennis LLC in collaboration with The Hat Fund, Inc comes into limelight.

We as an expertise in the world of tennis have professional coaches and the best infrastructure where your kids not only learn tennis but basic ethics, education as well as how to be the best in the world of competition. Every year we hold events form awards ceremony for the scholar athlete to the training camps.

DaVarryl Williamson with the Leadership Awardee Trace Collins at HAT Community Celebrations
DaVarryl Williamson with the Leadership Awardee Trace Collins.
Rachel Davis, PHD distributing awards among our young athlete for their performances at HAT Community Celebration
Rachel Davis, PHD distributing awards among our young athlete for their performances.

This year we kick started from the HAT Community Celebrations held on Sunday, 31st May 2015, following the Summer Camp started on June 1st 2015 at SUMMER ACADEMY at METRO STATE UNIVERSITY, Denver, Colorado.

High Altitude Tennis is excited to announce that we are proud to have partnered with Metro State University and we will be running our elite summer camps at the brand new, state of the art Recency Sports Complex.

The Campus

The Regency Sports Complex will provide an ideal setting for this years summer camps. With 8 tennis courts located on a sprawling 12-acres including a brand new lounge where we will have our daily lunches, this will certainly be the elite tennis camp to attend in 2015.

The High Altitude Tennis Summer Academy is one of a kind combining a specialized coaching methodology; stroke mechanics, player tactics and match strategies, with a conditioning and injury prevention program in the most rigorous training environment available. In short our development method works and we can prove it! However, what we are most proud if is our ability to build trust with each individual student which allows tennis to be our vehicle to teach the life lessons required to be tomorrows leaders and powerful contributors to society.

For Registration, Kindly click on the link : http://www.highaltitudetennis.com/summer-registration/ 

Share your inspirational stories at #hatfundstories on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, google plus.

For Media Contacts:

Raghav Kohli, Email-id: raghav.kohli18@gmail.com.

Making a Difference is not a Numbers Game

How making a difference for one child in a community can positively affect the entire community.

Leslie Segelke, Executive Director, The HAT FUND, INC.
Leslie Segelke,

At The HAT FUND we focus very strongly on making a meaningful lasting difference for each child.  This is very expensive and very time consuming but extremely worthwhile.  It is a focused effort to ensure no one falls through the cracks.  There are tremendously successful programs that are quite large and do wonderful things for huge numbers of people but at The HAT FUND we are an organization that puts a great deal of time and energy, and love into each and every child, family, community.   It grows from the seed.  We have to nourish our seedlings far better in this country… in this world. – L.S.

Where would the human civilization be today if all those from our earliest ancestors to today’s leaders were to resign themselves to never being able to make a difference in the World? Honestly we cannot reach an answer to that question because we are subconsciously living in a zone of comfort that was actually created by those, before us, who thought of us and made a difference to the lives we lead today.

Unfortunately making a difference is lots and lots of hard work. Giving away money in charity is easy but the responsibility that comes with judiciously using those charitable funds that have been received is not at all easy.  Though it may not seem so to a person outside, the task of the person entrusted with dispensing those charitable funds is extremely heart-breaking.  To an outsider, it may seem that handing over money or material is easy because they are so many who are so needy in our society that one can’t go wrong. Instant or one-off gratification is indeed easy to achieve.

From my personal experience, I can state that making a difference that lasts a life-time, not merely for that moment, to just one person from a broken home or much worse without a home, is a huge task. But, thankfully it is the most satisfying one too.

As a non-profit organization, we have two choices – do we thinly spread our efforts and resources over several or do we make a life-changing impact on a few. When we do the former, the results from that thinly-spread effort often wear off very quickly. Whereas when we do the latter, the impact often triggers several positives of much longer-lasting value. We can compare the former to air-dropping food to a disaster-struck community (it most likely only reaches the young and healthy males) and the latter to setting-up a base kitchen which has the capability of catering equally to all.

At Hat Fund, we focus on and practice more of the latter – providing impactful life-changing support to the needy child, which empowers the child’s ability to sustain independently and in the long-term rise above threshold of the needy and finally attain the status of a giver!

However, the pursuit of our goal of delivering a focused impactful difference to each child invites criticism that we ignore the larger good of the community’s needs. Such criticism is certainly not true because it is our sincere intention to leave no needy behind. Every person in need is a person of interest to us. However making a difference is not a numbers game.

At The HAT Fund, we do not claim to take on a universal burden; we take on those needy who are within sight of our community. There are ways and ways to uplift the needy; we have taken on to uplift the needy through an eco-system of imparting skills to play tennis at the highest levels with equal parts of academic achievements.

Even though we run outreach programs, we have no magic tool that brings into our line-of-sight every needy person.
Therefore we do learn, albeit belatedly, that some very needy may have missed our attention. Such a loss of the opportunity to make a difference saddens us at The HAT Fund immensely. Any student of social sciences will tell you that the most vulnerable are also often socially the most invisible; thus are frequently bypassed by conventional development efforts.

At the heart of our efforts is enriching the personality, nourishing the dreams and improving the latent skills of every needy youngster that comes our way, so that they can soon rise above the class of the needy and graduate to a class of self-sustaining individuals. No effort, time or resources are spared by us on this account. The results we have achieved are immensely encouraging and speak for themselves. A.A.

A Fighting Spirit Never give-up

I want to tell you the story of one of our remarkable students Miss-P. Miss-P is an ambitious student who has been with HFAC since it’s inception. I remember Miss-P’s first practice vividly to this day as she enchanted us all as a smiling, ambitious 6th grader. I will never forget that one specific moment during one of our very challenging fitness sessions ran by our Lead Fitness Expert, Michael Farrington. Ten minutes into the fitness portion of practice Miss-P was as white as a ghost, looked pale and seemed exhausted. One of our experts grew concerned and approached her to see if she needed a pause or a full stop break at which she said, “Nope, I’m good” and bravely continued with her fitness exercises.

Miss P, High Altitude Academy
Miss P at  High Altitude Tennis Academy, Denver, Colorado

A brave little fighter she is, and eventually made it to the last drill of the fitness session where we were doing wall sits. Then, Miss-P’s legs were shaking and tears were welling up in her eyes as she resolutely rejected the idea of quitting. When the session was over, it took her nearly 15 minutes for her to recover from one of the toughest fitness sessions she had ever experienced at her young age. The entire staff was impressed by the will power, enthusiasm and passion Miss-P presented. On the other hand, we were also worried that the intense fitness session would scare her away from her future practice sessions and further development. That is, until we all noticed her walking proudly to the car alongside her parents with a big smile on her face… she realized that she had just completed something immensely challenging which had made her better. She was profoundly satisfied… it was obvious, as she had accomplishment and satisfaction written all over her face. Her father, Pete [a former competitive rugby player], would later describe our program to others who were interested as “this place is not for sissies” … Miss-P surely is not a sissy!

Miss-P continued to return day after day improving her game and her fitness to levels she had never experience before. She was ALWAYS completely focused on what would help her improve to eventually play college tennis, and not distracted by what would give her instant short-term results. This focus was highlighted during some of her first tournaments as an HFAC player. Leading up to the tournament Miss-P had been working hard on improving her serve, and like most players who have worked on improvements in their game, she failed miserably the first few times she put them into action under the pressure of a tennis match. Actually, she could hardly make a serve in the box… yet she kept trying. She was swinging through her serve focusing on perfecting her motion confidently, with proper technique. A focus on perfection, which she knew would pay off in the future. That day, Miss-P had a choice, and she chose to think forward and be patient in her development. Which is, you must agree, very wise and quite rare for her age. Through her resiliency Miss-P worked out the kinks and went on to eventually winning three tournaments in a row! Her game was just thriving and things were looking up, way up!

Throughout my life, I have rarely seen someone as happy and satisfied as Miss-P was at the end of her winning that first tournament. She has personally entrenched her parents and the entire HF Community in a vibrating circle of satisfaction, pride and profound joy. Later, Miss-P began to become less confident in her movement and began to play with a little less balance than we were use to seeing from her. You see, one thing I purposely failed to mention was that Miss-P, previous to our program, had fought another battle with the tissue in her brain.

At age 5 she developed a brain tumor and had it successfully removed [the procedure, performed by the exceptional staff at The Children’s Hospital of Colorado is called a craniotomy and required Miss-P to endure 4 surgeries over 2 days]. Sadly, the malicious tumor had returned and Miss-P would have to once again return to the operating room.

When Miss-P awoke from her second round of surgeries she noticed something was wrong. She had lost her coordination to all the muscles on the right side of her body. Furthermore, she had trouble eating, her vision was blurry and she couldn’t write. Miss-P couldn’t walk, run or jump much less play tennis. Luckily, in Miss-P’s heart and brain, these predicaments and constraints had a curious side effect… Miss-P challenged herself and she immediately went to work. She wholeheartedly welcomed her rigorous therapy at the Children’s Hospital and she worked hard. Yes, she did, even though the doctors warned her that her remarkable progress might eventually plateau.

It was not surprising to see Miss-P returning to the tennis court. Except, things were much tougher this time around. All of the fundamentals, techniques and tactics she had learned she would have to start to relearn, without the expectation that she would ever become a great tennis player. She had hit rock bottom with her tennis when she tried out for her High School tennis team that year. Pre-surgery she would have been one of the top singles players for the team, and now to her surprise and disappointment she was on the bottom tier playing mainly Junior Varsity. This determination provided Miss-P the sour reality that her dream of playing college tennis was not in the cards. She was devastated.

Miss-P even considered quitting her favorite sport for a while, taking prolonged breaks to try rowing, basketball, and other activities. However, she couldn’t get away from the feeling that she was missing out on all that tennis had given to her. She craved the day to day challenges and improvements where she was able to notice positive changes in her fitness and tennis skills.

Thankfully, Peyton has returned to the court where she now plays 4-5 days a week in the same challenging program with elite junior tennis players from Colorado and all around the world with that basic goal and expectation that she will improve each day, one day at a time, slowly, passionately…patiently.

Miss-P teaches us that this is not simply about tennis, but really it’s about all the lessons that tennis and any other competitive sport can teach us all in order to be highly successful in any endeavor. I, with 100% conviction, believe that Peyton, due to her ambition, passion, resiliency, and phenomenal character will be one of tomorrow’s prolific leaders. At HFAC, we say all the time to each and every student accepted into our program… you are whom you hang around, and we are tremendously honored to have the opportunity to be around Miss-P and such a wonderful community of students, parents, and coaches.

-Ryan Segelke, CEO of High Altitude Tennis, LLC and HF Academy Director