Tennis Director Ty Avolio has worked diligently to teach the game of tennis to the kids of the Currey Ingram Academy, building a winning program for children with unique learning styles.
© The Currey Ingram Academy
By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
Coach Ty Avolio has huge plans, centered on enriching the lives of children with unique learning styles through tennis, one lesson at time. For the 56-year-old tennis lifer, its a worthy challenge to go one-on-one with young kids -- students who maybe have deficits in attention, memory or processing speed, or language-based learning difficulties like dyslexia, but that are gifited in other ways.
Like their game on the court.
"You have to modify the way you teach the game, for sure, yet the one thing I love about tennis is that the laws of physics are immutable," said Avolio, who serves as tennis director at the Currey Ingram Academy in Brentwood, Tenn., one of the 34 educational organizations in the U.S. selected by USTA Serves in 2012 to receive a monetary grant toward the expansion of tennis and academic programming.
Avolio has taught children extensively throughout his career and was excited about the opportunity to introduce tennis to the students, kindergarten through 12th grade, of Currey Ingram when recruited by the school to his current role in 2011. Founded in 2002, Currey Ingram serves approximately 300 enrolled students by providing small classes and personalized instruction with a full range of arts, athletics and extracurricular opportunities.
"What I do is give them a little more space because they’re extremely creative, whereas in a more traditional program, everything is about repetition and conformity," said Avolio, whose year-round progressive curriculum is designed to teach tennis through kinesthetic movement and visual activities. "The strategy of the game, the physical movement and also the independence, what it brings is something that they can relate to: they’re intellectual, independent kids with high IQs. They attack it like chess."
The national charitable foundation of the United States Tennis Association, USTA Serves donated more than $340,000 in grants in 2012. The grant process was developed to provide disadvantaged, at-risk youth with the opportunity to participate in tennis and strive for academic excellence, and to help combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles.
Combined with scholarship awards, USTA Serves distributed $1.7 million overall last year. And to date, the foundation has disbursed more than $11 million to 236 programs that support its mission, including more than $600,000 to adaptive tennis programs.
"USTA Serves is happy to support these organizations throughout the country who strive to provide systemic change for America’s youth, by promoting tennis and education," said Deborah Larkin, Executive Director, USTA Serves. "These organizations share our belief that tennis, combined with education, can have a lasting effect on the lives of children and help pave the way to a brighter future for them. It’s an honor to support these organizations, and we applaud them in their efforts."
Currey Ingram and Avolio plan to put the money from the grant toward video recording equipment, among other things, the goal being that students and their parents may review lessons and match footage via the internet and track their individual growth. Additionally, Avolio wants students to take full part in the production of these instructional videos, including filming, writing the scripts and acting in vignettes.
"We’re honored by the grant and are excited about the potential of what we’ll be able to show: that tennis can enhance a child’s academic, social and family progress significantly," Avolio said.
2012 grant recipients were chosen by a Grant Proposal Review Committee comprised of USTA Serves board members and USTA national staff, with important input from USTA sections and committee personnel. Grants are awarded to programs that successfully demonstrate the ability to provide quality programming and measurable outcomes.
Currey Ingram will also receive the 2012 USTA Tennessee Education Merit Award, given to programs based on students’ excellence in the classroom as well as the tennis courts, this February at a ceremony held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Since graduating its first class of high school graduates in 2005, 100 percent of the school’s graduates have been accepted to college programs, with more than 50 percent receiving academic merit scholarship offers. The school was founded in 1968 as Westminster School of Nashville and offered grades K-8 for its first 34 years. The school moved to its current location in 2002 and was renamed Currey Ingram Academy to honor lead donors Stephanie Currey Ingram and John Rivers Ingram.
The following programs were awarded 2012 year-end grants by USTA Serves:
1. Aceing Autism Inc., Los Angeles
2. Adaptive Tennis Association of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C.
3. Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA at Buckhead, Atlanta
4. Currey Ingram Academy, Brentwood, Tenn.
5. Dallas Tennis Association, Addison, Texas
6. Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia
7. FDDOC Winners' Circle, Inc., Shreveport, La.
8. Genesis School Inc., Kansas City, Mo.
9. Harper for Kids, San Francisco
10. HERO, Inc., Purchase, N.Y.
11. I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County, Boulder, Colo.
12. Inter American University Of Puerto Rico, San Juan, P.R.
13. International Rescue Committee, Inc., San Diego
14. MACH Academy, Inc., Augusta, Ga.
15. Monterey County Police Activities League, Prunedale, Calif.
16. New Haven Youth Tennis and Education, Inc., Guilford, Conn.
17. Our Military Kids Inc., McLean, Va.
18. Panda Foundation Inc., Bradenton, Fla.
19. Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA, Newport News, Va.
20. Police Athletic League of Parsippany Troy Hills, Parsippany, N.J.
21. Prince Georges Tennis and Education Foundation Inc., Upper Marlboro, Md.
22. Quickstart Tennis of Central Virginia Inc., Ivy, Va.
23. Reach For College Inc., Washington, D.C.
24. Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands, East Sandwich, Mass.
25. Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring Association, Wilmington, Del.
26. San Diego District Tennis Association, San Diego, Calif.
27. Sportsmen’s Tennis Club, Dorchester, Mass.
28. Tennis & Education Inc., St. Paul, Minn.
29. Tennis for Charity Inc., Cincinnati
30. University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
31. University Of La Verne, La Verne, Calif.
32. Ventura Education Partnership, Ventura, Calif.
33. YMCA of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.
34. Zina Garrison All Court Tennis Academy, Houston
If you are interested in learning more about USTA Serves or donating to the foundation, please click here.