Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

Changing Lives:

Stephanie Waterman Foundation NJTL

October 2, 2019

The USTA Foundation is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Junior Tennis & Learning network this year. To honor the event, the USTA is recognizing many of the NJTL programs around the country that leave such a lasting impact on their communities, youth, and the game of tennis. 


One of these impactful NJTL programs is the Stephanie Waterman Foundation based in the Kansas City area. The Stephanie Waterman Foundation’s mission is to use tennis to provide opportunities for the underserved to better themselves through a positive learning environment that promotes academic excellence, personal responsibility, character development and leadership skills. 


Drawing inspiration from the late Stephanie Waterman and Arthur Ashe to provide safe, healthy, and educational opportunities to underserved children, the Foundation offers many different programs such as different levels of tennis programming, Academic Creative Engagement, and Life Skills support.



The Stephanie Waterman Foundation Stephanie is run by Executive Director and CEO Vick Newson, who shared some of his personal experiences and insights about the Stephanie Waterman Foundation and NJTL in general.


USTA.com: How did you first become involved with NJTL?

Newson: When I retired from the Corp world, I was looking for something to work on. I tried numerous ventures but I did not feel it. One day I went with my sister to enroll my great niece into ACE Elementary School. That's when it hit—a way to give back. I started a tennis program at ACE after months of discussions with the administration. After a year, Jennifer Waterman, Fred Johnson and Steve Taylor asked me to run the Stephanie Waterman Foundation. I accepted the position some seven years ago.


USTA.com: What inspired the Stephanie Waterman Foundation, and how did you decide on the name?

Newson: Stephanie Waterman is the name of the young lady who died while traveling overseas. Her passion and mission was to use tennis to help change the lives of disadvantaged children. After her tragic death, her parents created the foundation to continue the mission of Stephanie.


USTA.com: What’s been the most impactful thing you’ve learned through your experience with NJTL?

Newson: The most impactful thing I've learned is that changing a person requires a sustained commitment to the person/child. I’ve been working with some of my kids for more than six years. Many times it is not easy to sustain the efforts to help, but when I see some of the successes and outcomes we are having with children, it has intrinsic rewards that help us continue.


USTA.com: Why is it so important to you to serve the children in minority or at-risk communities?

Newson: I believe all of us have a responsibility to improve our communities. If I don't, who will?


USTA.com: How do your programs benefit children, whether in the short-term or the long-term?

Newson: We hold kids accountable while offering them a safe place to play and have fun. There are so many life benefits to learn from playing sports. Tennis has a unique set of character development benefits as well.


USTA.com: What are some of the Stephanie Waterman Foundation’s goals for the future?

Newson: To develop a location that can be used to have an Urban Tennis Academy in order to train more kids and improve our reach to introduce more kids to the sport.


USTA.com: What are some of the Stephanie Waterman Foundation’s goals for the future?

Newson: Our volunteers have helped with teaching tennis to our participants, and we can always use more.


To find out more about the Stephanie Waterman Foundation, contact Vick Newson at vick.newson@gmail.com


Contact Tara Williams at williams@movalley.usta.com to learn more about NJTL programs within USTA Heart of America, and go to this page on the USTA Foundation’s website to learn more about the NJTL Network as a whole.


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