By Kevin Wittmer USTA.com
Sue Marcote (r.) on the slopes with one of her clients.
© USTA/Andrew Ong
TUCSON, Ariz. – Sue Marcote swears that she’s getting the better end of this deal, receiving more in return than she is putting in.
The deal to which Marcote is referring is not this weekend’s 2009 USTA League 3.0 Senior National Championship at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, but is her volunteer work as an adaptive ski instructor.
One would think that with her tennis endeavors and job as a nurse at an orthopedic hospital would keep the mother of four and grandmother of five from Point Lookout, N.Y., busy enough.
However, Marcote spends her winters volunteering for the Adaptive Sports Foundation at Windham Mountain in Upstate New York. In this role, she works with approximately 30 clients per season, helping those with disabilities join in the celebrated winter tradition of maneuvering down snow-capped slopes.
Whether she is working with a child who was born with physical abnormalities or with a recently disabled war veteran, Marcote says that there is always a way for them to participate.
“When someone comes in, we give them a test of upper and lower body strength and can make adjustments in different equipment – whether it is the use of tethering, a mono-ski or something else – that will give them the best experience,” Marcote said.
“Tennis and skiing are so different, in that, I’ve played my best game at tennis, lost 6-0 and have left the courts happy with the way I played,” she explained. “With skiing, you either do it or you don’t. You make it down the mountain, or you don’t.
“Some days our students will be going along and we’re just kind of helping out, and some days are tougher, where you’re just taking them for a sleigh ride.
“But at the end of the day, I get more out of it than I give,” Marcote continued. “The feeling of watching what people can overcome and seeing the way it makes them feel, even for two hours makes me so happy.”
Some of her most rewarding times, she says, come during her volunteer work at the Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, which was held this past year in Colorado and drew more than 400 veterans.
“These aren’t just new recruits, some are Civil War veterans,” Marcote laughs.
In talking to Marcote, it is clear that in the more than 25 years of ski instruction this is the group that impacts her most, and she admittedly has an extra soft spot for those who have suffered from head injuries or mental illness.
When asked to sum up Marcote for someone who had not met her, Eastern team captain Janet Chase says, “Sue is the most wonderful person I know. She is so fun and friendly, and she has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.”
Undoubtedly, her students would agree.