Finding Joy in the Excitement of PE

May 05, 2021

It has been a whirlwind of change for teachers and students over the past 18 months. Navigating through all of the adjustments is no small journey and educators have risen to the challenge with admiration and creativity. 


During Teacher Appreciation Week, celebrated nationwide May 3 through May 7, USTA Mid-Atlantic is spotlighting the continued positive influence teachers in the Mid-Atlantic region make in children’s lives inside and outside the classroom. 


One such teacher is Heather Golden, a physical education teacher at Dominion Trail Elementary School in Loudoun County, Va. Heather started as an educator in the classroom for 12 years, and earned her master's degree in physical education. Since then she has been teaching kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle with physical fitness for six years as a PE teacher. 


A game-changing curriculum that Heather uses in her classroom is the USTA’s Net Generation school tennis program


“I heard about Net Generation at a professional development day a few years ago,” Heather said, reflecting on when she first learned about the curriculum. “Not only did I receive the training and lesson plans, but I was given free equipment. I thought it was too good to be true!”

Tennis is a sport that provides endless opportunities for students. Learning tennis in the classroom with the help of the Net Generation curriculum and equipment helps students achieve their fullest potential, plus it is a great way to bring the lifelong benefits of the sport to all children in an accessible way - something USTA Mid-Atlantic prioritizes. Teachers across the Mid-Atlantic use the tennis in PE curriculum to help students build their skills that they’ll use for life. It is available for grades K-12. 


“The students are always excited to use the equipment. They enjoy the chance to use the tennis racquets,” Heather said. “And the students who have played tennis in the past are always excited to show off their skills!” The excitement on the students' faces when they master a new stroke in tennis is priceless. Heather finds that the most rewarding part of her job is to see how excited kids are to come to PE class because they realize that the gym is a fun place to be! It’s also a nice break in their school day. 


“The greatest joy is when the students take the health and fitness concepts that they learn in PE and apply them to their life,” she said. “I love seeing past students running and biking in the neighborhood and competing in high school sports.”


Tennis also creates connections and bonds among people , and students are learning that they can play tennis anywhere with anyone. Heather focuses on this aspect of tennis when she is teaching the sport and encourages her students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to their life.


“I like teaching sports like tennis and golf because students can get involved with them in the community and alongside family members from different generations,” she adds. Conversely, Heather also imparts that students can, “work on their skills alone and don’t need to join a team or rely on other people.” 


And of course, the physical and developmental benefits from tennis are critical. “I like the focus on speed and agility, as well as the benefit of improving hand-eye coordination,” Heather said. 


We celebrate educators like Heather for not only teaching, encouraging, and exciting students in the classroom, but for going above and beyond to continue to educate students outside the classroom as well. 


Happy Teachers Appreciation week to all our educators and teachers in the Mid-Atlantic. We are celebrating with you! 


If you are a teacher or a parent looking to bring tennis into your local school like Heather Golden, you can learn more about getting started by visiting www.USTA.com/MASTennisinPE. 


USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. Learn about our impact in the Section and how you can help bring tennis to more communities throughout the region.

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