SERVE AND RETURN

In an earlier blog, I have spoken about how studying abroad shapes a person’s destiny. In this one I will speak about alumni “giving back” to their institution. I will speak with specific reference to student athletes, because they are a group that is close to my heart and to what we do at the HAT FUND.

Just as there are students who go abroad to pursue higher academic learning, there are student athletes who also go overseas to improve their game; it is critical for them to continue to maintain physical fitness and remain competitive even while pursuing academics away from the comfort-zone of home environs.

When a student has studied or an athlete has trained overseas, the intercultural benefits remain instilled in the person even long after returning to his/her home country. Athletes develop a special affinity too for the institution where they have learnt and improved their game. Therefore, when they have returned to their home country, they would make excellent ambassadors for the institution.

When alumni give back, they do so for several reasons — such as self-esteem (it feels good to be known as a donor), or it could be to make a difference in the lives of others, or simply to recognize the role the training institution has played in their personal growth. Giving back is the truest measure of loyalty to one’s alma mater. Institutions that have provided the highest level of personal development to their students and those that have provided the warmest environment for strong friendships to develop amongst classmates will most naturally and easily attract the highest level of loyalty from their alumni.

Though it may appear that big stars of sports live in the stratosphere surrounded by riches, it can be said that innumerable sports persons who have made it to the big leagues have very humble origins and never forget the early struggles to overcome the hardships and hurdles they have grown up with. The “giving-back” can take several forms. Some athletes make a financial contribution; some encourage other promising athletes to also enroll in the same institution, yet others travel back to the institution regularly to share experience and advice with younger athletes.

I am happy and proud to relate some examples from right here at HAT where we are driven by the zeal that no talent should be wasted.

Eric Kwiatkowski Alumni Eric chose to give back to HAT by returning as a student coach. He trains and inspires other students by relating his personal experiences on how training ethics have benefited him. He does not forget that when he joined HAT, he had no tournament experience and no ranking during his sophomore year of High School yet within 3 short years his national rankings skyrocketed to the top 400 and it earned him a D2 scholarship.

Trace Collins Since graduating from HAT Academy in 2015, Trace has returned several times to help the next generation of tennis students by sharing his life experiences with them. When he joined HAT as an 8th grader he was fighting to overcome health issues that were standing in the way of his becoming the player he aspired to be; with sheer perseverance he successfully fought his way up. He now returns as an inspirational role model.

Zoe Scandallis Zoe gives back to the HAT community by always taking time off from her busy schedule to either write inspirational emails or to engage in phone conversations or to participate in online town halls patiently responding to questions from anxious parents and eager players. Zoe enrolled in HAT’s visitor program in 2009 when she was still in High School but with the dream of playing at the University of Southern California. Her outstanding play earned her a full scholarship to USC and she went on to play #1 singles during her 4 years at college.

John Lutaaya No examples of HF alumni giving back to their alma mater would ever be complete without mentioning the example of John Lutaaya. While his association with tennis started with simply being a ball-boy in a tennis club in Kampala, he eventually rose to be ranked #3 in singles and #1 in doubles for 3 consecutive years (ITF, East Africa U-12). John is now returning to Kampala, Uganda and has accepted our offer to serve as HAT Fund’s Ambassador to Africa. By accepting this role, John has fully acknowledged and recognized the part played in his personal development throughout his life by several of his benefactors but none more so than HAT.

As a son of single parent impoverished family in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, right from his childhood, John was never sure where his next meal or the funds to pay for his education or the money to pay for his tennis would come from. That was the case for John until HAT Fund stepped in to assist with his travel, his visa, his tennis lessons and his living expenses while training and studying in the US. I will quote John’s description of his feelings about his time spent at the HAT Academy — “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”.

Some choose to give back in a manner that can be described as an institutional way — they create a network through which they promote financial literacy. This is of immense help to younger athletes who, on their way up, may fritter away their earnings and thus lose their way. Financial literacy is, however, not about managing personal finances and wealth alone but is also about being aware of the benefits of philanthropy.

To continue their engagement, athletes, upon returning home after achieving personal and professional success, may like to establish training centers similar to the one to whom they owe their success. They reconnect with their former institution and seek collaboration to create similar facilities and implement similar training-management and business models. They can stretch the reconnect even further by choosing the same brand name (with appropriate permissions).

As a professional coach, there isn’t a payback that is richer to receive than to have a student athlete return to us filled with eagerness to give back to our Institution.

By HF Contributor

In an earlier blog, I have spoken about how studying abroad shapes a person’s destiny. In this one I will speak about alumni “giving back” to their institution. I will speak with specific reference to student athletes, because they are a group that is close to my heart and to what we do at the HAT FUND.

Just as there are students who go abroad to pursue higher academic learning, there are student athletes who also go overseas to improve their game; it is critical for them to continue to maintain physical fitness and remain competitive even while pursuing academics away from the comfort-zone of home environs.

When a student has studied or an athlete has trained overseas, the intercultural benefits remain instilled in the person even long after returning to his/her home country. Athletes develop a special affinity too for the institution where they have learnt and improved their game. Therefore, when they have returned to their home country, they would make excellent ambassadors for the institution.

When alumni give back, they do so for several reasons — such as self-esteem (it feels good to be known as a donor), or it could be to make a difference in the lives of others, or simply to recognize the role the training institution has played in their personal growth. Giving back is the truest measure of loyalty to one’s alma mater. Institutions that have provided the highest level of personal development to their students and those that have provided the warmest environment for strong friendships to develop amongst classmates will most naturally and easily attract the highest level of loyalty from their alumni.

Though it may appear that big stars of sports live in the stratosphere surrounded by riches, it can be said that innumerable sports persons who have made it to the big leagues have very humble origins and never forget the early struggles to overcome the hardships and hurdles they have grown up with. The “giving-back” can take several forms. Some athletes make a financial contribution; some encourage other promising athletes to also enroll in the same institution, yet others travel back to the institution regularly to share experience and advice with younger athletes.

I am happy and proud to relate some examples from right here at HAT where we are driven by the zeal that no talent should be wasted.

Eric Kwiatkowski Alumni Eric chose to give back to HAT by returning as a student coach. He trains and inspires other students by relating his personal experiences on how training ethics have benefited him. He does not forget that when he joined HAT, he had no tournament experience and no ranking during his sophomore year of High School yet within 3 short years his national rankings skyrocketed to the top 400 and it earned him a D2 scholarship.

Trace Collins Since graduating from HAT Academy in 2015, Trace has returned several times to help the next generation of tennis students by sharing his life experiences with them. When he joined HAT as an 8th grader he was fighting to overcome health issues that were standing in the way of his becoming the player he aspired to be; with sheer perseverance he successfully fought his way up. He now returns as an inspirational role model.

Zoe Scandallis Zoe gives back to the HAT community by always taking time off from her busy schedule to either write inspirational emails or to engage in phone conversations or to participate in online town halls patiently responding to questions from anxious parents and eager players. Zoe enrolled in HAT’s visitor program in 2009 when she was still in High School but with the dream of playing at the University of Southern California. Her outstanding play earned her a full scholarship to USC and she went on to play #1 singles during her 4 years at college.

John Lutaaya No examples of HF alumni giving back to their alma mater would ever be complete without mentioning the example of John Lutaaya. While his association with tennis started with simply being a ball-boy in a tennis club in Kampala, he eventually rose to be ranked #3 in singles and #1 in doubles for 3 consecutive years (ITF, East Africa U-12). John is now returning to Kampala, Uganda and has accepted our offer to serve as HAT Fund’s Ambassador to Africa. By accepting this role, John has fully acknowledged and recognized the part played in his personal development throughout his life by several of his benefactors but none more so than HAT.

As a son of single parent impoverished family in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, right from his childhood, John was never sure where his next meal or the funds to pay for his education or the money to pay for his tennis would come from. That was the case for John until HAT Fund stepped in to assist with his travel, his visa, his tennis lessons and his living expenses while training and studying in the US. I will quote John’s description of his feelings about his time spent at the HAT Academy — “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”.

Some choose to give back in a manner that can be described as an institutional way — they create a network through which they promote financial literacy. This is of immense help to younger athletes who, on their way up, may fritter away their earnings and thus lose their way. Financial literacy is, however, not about managing personal finances and wealth alone but is also about being aware of the benefits of philanthropy.

To continue their engagement, athletes, upon returning home after achieving personal and professional success, may like to establish training centers similar to the one to whom they owe their success. They reconnect with their former institution and seek collaboration to create similar facilities and implement similar training-management and business models. They can stretch the reconnect even further by choosing the same brand name (with appropriate permissions).

As a professional coach, there isn’t a payback that is richer to receive than to have a student athlete return to us filled with eagerness to give back to our Institution.

By HF Contributor A Adeni

Advertisements

Check out for HAT athletes who all be competing in different championship over this weekend. Wish them all good luck

ITA – WY District Cup – JR Indoor Championship

Boys’ 16 Singles:
-Andre (16 Doubles with Ryan L)
-Ryan L (16 Doubles with Andre)

Boys’ 18 Singles:

-Ryan N (18 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 12 Singles:

-#1 Seed Isabella (12 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 14 Singles:

-#1 Seed Sammy (14 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 16 Singles:

-Meghna (16 Doubles as well)

-Hana (16 Doubles as well)

Girls’ 18 Doubles:

-Maleeha (18 Doubles as well)

Major Mortgage Autumn Junior Classic Championship

Boys’ 16 Singles:

-Jackson C (16 Doubles as well)

-Gabe

Boys’ 18 Singles:

-Gabe

Flying Horse Clay Downs Championships

Boys’ 12 Singles:

-#1 Seed Batman

Boys’ 16 Singles:

-#3 Seed Andrew

Girls’ 10 Singles:

-Remy

Girls’ 16 Singles:

-Miki

-Megan

-Adriana

“What my true form of compensation has always been as a coach is seeing a student make a breakthough after the initial struggle”, This Week in #StaffSpotlight Ryan Segelke, Co-Founder & Director, HAT

Ryan Segelke is the the CO-Founder & Director of High Altitude Tennis Academy in Colorado.

Here is a little insight into coach Segelke:

Ryan Segelke, Co-Founder & Director, High Altitude Tennis, Colorado, USA
Ryan Segelke, Co-Founder & Director, High Altitude Tennis, Colorado, USA

Q: You clearly love the game of tennis… What is it that attracted you to the game?

A: The self-accountability of it… If I lost, it was up to me to get back to the practice courts as soon as possible and improve; and if I won, I received all of the accolades. Because of this I really thrived, as frustrating as it was at times!

Q: What drew you to coaching?

A: I suppose I always knew that my late start in tennis would make it extremely difficult to become a successful professional player, so I began coaching early on. I loved, and still love, helping people get better on and off the court. There is something so intriguing about understanding each student’s personality and the nuances of what will get through to them effectively. What my true form of compensation has always been as a coach is seeing a student make a breakthough after the initial struggle; and most of all, when a student comes back after a number of years and lets you know that you made a difference for them.

Q: What is the mission of High Altitude Tennis Academy and how has it evolved since its inception?

A: The mission of the Academy is to put our students ahead of everything else. Our goal for each of our students is to utilize our “micro dynamic” tennis environment to teach each individual the life lessons that, when applied, will propel them to be tomorrows’ leaders and prolific contributors to society. Our staff is also expected to follow the standards set for our students. Otherwise, we become hypocrites.

In the beginning, we knew we wanted the Academy to be focused on elite junior training but we were giving lessons to everyone… adults, kids, teams, professionals- completely unfocused. Looking back, we made a lot of mistakes, however, it has been fun to learn and improve. We narrowed our focus, and today we have only programs serving aspiring junior players.

Q: You train coaches. You are taking steps to improve the level of training and education required for coaching, beginning with coaches employed by High Altitude Tennis.   Many coaches are not looking to do more than receive the standard certifications. Do you think there will be a noticeable difference in junior athletes’ development and results?

A: Yes. I love training young coaches, in particular those who are ready to make an impactful difference and are really a blank canvas. What is rewarding for me is to teach tennis myself, however what is most rewarding is to develop a proven success system, like we have at the Academy, and teach coaches who will then influence many more students.

Q: You oversee player development. Is there a secret to developing successful players?

A: (smiling) – Yes. Character development, hard work, straightforward and loving honesty (with students and parents), and consistent repetition are the “secrets”, if you can call it that. There is no place for frustration and anger. It takes a focused, substantive plan to develop a great player. Our coaches develop a minimum of 2 game plans per day, typed up and sent to the entire staff, for the last 4 years! Not ONE singe practice has been “winged” or planned on the “fly”. This process actually allows us to have the flexibility to adjust game plans to match the individual needs of our students.

Q: High Altitude Tennis’ focus is more than winning trophies. Can you tell us more about why you would choose to partner with a non-profit?

A: In many ways, what we envisioned the Academy to be has come to fruition. We are lucky to have learned so much and been open to the many valuable lessons presented to us so that we could adapt and make the appropriate changes for High Altitude Tennis to be successful.

We know that we can make a much bigger difference partnered with a non-profit like The HAT FUND. First, we can accept students who do not currently have the means to afford an elite program like ours. It is extremely important to make this great game available to all young athletes who wish to play. Second, The HAT FUND has a network of incredible organizations providing not only industry leading athletic training like High Altitude Tennis Academy, but also educational resources like Growing Champions for Life, The Princeton Review, and Laurel Springs School allowing our students access to resources that will help them become great athletes, great students and most importantly great people.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest

#FridayFix Learning Session, today learning Two handed Backhand Volley!

http://bit.ly/1NfyMQi

Ryan takes you through all of the steps essential to hitting a great two-handed backhand volley. He’s assisted by HAT’s own Emily Untermeyer. Get your Fix this Friday with High Altitude Tennis.

Vania King has a great Two Handed Backhand Volley! Many people look down on the two handed backhand volley. There is absolutely no shame in having a two handed backhand volley.

I have had pro players visit us at HAT who were not able to keep the racket head above the level of the net (because of strength in the shoulder) who we had to change to the two handed backhand volley. We teach them how to hit a proper one handed backhand volley at the same time so they can hit a volley on the stretch. Many young juniors switch too soon from a two handed backhand volley to a one handed backhand volley because they see older, better players using one hand. If the player cannot support the weight of the racket, it is crucial that they stay with a two handed backhand volley to ensure proper technique. This will promote proper mechanics when they are ready and strong enough to switch to a one handed backhand volley.

Head out to the courts, give the two handed backhand volley a try and let us know how it goes! Give it some time and repetition and you will be hitting the best volleys of your life!

I didn’t just wake up one day thinking, Wow, I want to be a tennis player,It all came gradually

Karen reached out to HAT, hoping for an opportunity to train and travel on the WTA circuit with the expert coaching team.  You see Karen does not come from a family of professional athletes or parents who are well to do.  They are an every day family, with an extraordinary daughter; fighting her way to the top of the game, often facing what seem to be insurmountable obstacles.

Karen Barritza, WTA Player from Denmark

Traveling the world every week playing tournaments in not so glamorous locations, often alone, with enormous pressures from home and from self, can be overwhelming.  Breaking through as a professional tennis player is extremely difficult.  It certainly demands skill, talent and dedication; however, it also requires a tremendous amount of emotional and financial support.

Becoming a top-ranked tennis player does not happen automatically.  “I didn’t just wake up one day thinking, ‘Wow, I want to be a tennis player!’ says Karen, “It all came gradually.  I started playing when I was six on a vacation in Romania, and got really into it and practiced a lot. When I came home (to Denmark), I was playing quite well, started winning a lot and kept practicing – people and coaches started noticing me.

Karen credits her involvement with HAT for much of her success both on and off the court.  “Those involved with HAT are ambitious and talented.  The organization provides a nurturing environment so that you can take your tennis to the next level.  I have learned a lot and have had a lot of experiences that I feel I can take with me ‘till later in life.”  Karen’s goal is to be in the Top 100 WTA singles and to play Grand Slam events.

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.