In their own words: Edilberto Loaiza on Hispanic Heritage Month
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the USTA also celebrates those in the Hispanic community whose dedication to the sport as USTA volunteers helps to keep our game growing strong. There are more than 350 national volunteers from all 17 USTA sections, and while it would be difficult to recognize every Hispanic leader here, we’re thrilled to be able to highlight these volunteer leaders, in their own words, whose contributions, influence and enthusiasm continue to push this organization and this sport forward. In this installment, USTA Adult Social Play Committee member Edilberto Loaiza reflects on what tennis means to him.
I grew up in Colombia and started playing tennis there when I was 30 years old. I came to the U.S. five years later, in 1989, and for 20 years, I worked at the United Nations in New York City, as a technical advisor for programming, monitoring and evaluation.
I currently live in Santa Rosa, Calif., where I’m a court-appointed special advocate helping neglected and abused children who are in the care of the welfare system. I advocate for the best interests of the children to make sure their rights are not violated, and that they can reach adulthood and function and succeed in society.
In the 55+ community I live in, I’m an active and avid tennis player and am involved in promoting the sport to all. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I decided to take a break from playing USTA League tennis here in the Northern California section, but I continue to be very active with the Oakmont Tennis Club, with its more than 120 members—including playing tournaments and in social activities on and off the court.
During the last two years, I’ve also been honored to be a member of the USTA national Adult Social Play Committee, with its goal to promote social play opportunities for adults of all ages and abilities. This is such a key area for growing the game, as evidenced by the growing number of adult social play programs and events held by sections and local organizations around the country. It’s been interesting working through the coordination required between the national committee and sections in this important area.
I’m excited to be part of an organization that has been helping to drive tennis participation in the Hispanic community. Through Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s so important that we celebrate our diversity and honor the contributions of the Hispanic community.