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Northern

Pride: Stonewall Sports Tennis Commissioner - Scott Sundstrom

Hannah Schwartz | June 11, 2021

Scott Sundstrom has a lifetime worth of experiences on the tennis court. The Lino Lakes, MN native grew up playing in the Northern section, participating in USTA Junior Tournaments, Junior Team Tennis, Zonals, and World Team Tennis; he’s done it all. Today, some of his roles include being a Level 1 USPTA Certified Teaching Pro, the Head Coach of the boys and girls team at Mounds View High School, a member of the USTA Northern Board of Directors, and a difference maker in the LGBTQ+ Community.

 

When a friend of Scott’s asked him to play on a Stonewall Sports Kickball team a few years ago, he discovered a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community. A safe space he knew was needed for queer tennis players.

 

“In July of 2019, I was sitting in a USTA Northern board meeting centered on diversity and inclusion and I thought I should make tennis a part of Stonewall Sports Minneapolis. I contacted the President of the organization and he trusted me to head it up and we’ve been rolling with it since.”

 

Scott now acts as the Tennis Commissioner for Stonewall Sports Minneapolis, a LGBTQ+ and Ally community-based sports league that values each player for who they are and what they bring to the community.

 

“People in the [LGBTQ+] community are apprehensive to play sports because they’re intimidated, they don’t feel welcome, or they can’t be their authentic self,” Scott states, “Stonewall Sports allows for you to be your true self and bring that to the sport. You feel comfortable being silly and crazy, and if you make a mistake you don’t feel bad. There are no negative feelings.”

 

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Scott started Stonewall Tennis Minneapolis to provide a safe and inclusive environment for queer people to play tennis with a goal to gear it towards social play. This summer, he has implemented a program that will allow the players to participate in fast-paced, high energy drills with lots of movement and going from court to court.

“We’ve had to rethink what tennis is and what it could look like. The focus isn’t on winning, which is unique about our programming. . . It’s fun, fast-paced, and allows for people to mingle and get to know each other. Everyone just comes together to play and have fun.”

 

After kicking off just a couple months before the global pandemic, the Stonewall Tennis league had 28 players in the Fall, Winter, and Spring sessions throughout 2020 and earlier this year, which was maximum participation. This summer, they have 48 registered players and many others itching to join.

 

“We are continuing to grow,” Scott adds, “There have been many friendships that have blossomed due to Stonewall Tennis programming and many players have caught the ‘tennis bug’ and are wanting to play all the time. I wanted to provide a space where people could network and hit on their own time, join a USTA League team together, or play tournaments together. Today, we are definitely at that point.”

 

Stonewall Tennis has been an outlet for queer tennis players throughout the metro area to meet up with others in the LGBTQ+ community and play together while being their truest selves. Scott hopes the success of his initiative can impact the 22 other Stonewall Sports chapters throughout the country to add a tennis league to their cities.

“Many of my closest friends are through Stonewall Sports. I am grateful for the positive environment the organization has created. As a kid, I never imagined playing sports with a group of queer people. It’s been a great experience.”

 

Stonewall Tennis Minneapolis is a judgment-free and safe environment that inspires tennis players in the community to be their true selves and encourages them to come back. Scott wants players seeking a place to express their genuine identity to know that there is always space for them.

 

“Find your ally. Find places where you feel comfortable and safe to be yourself. Connect with coaches who see you as a whole person and who support you. It’s difficult to be vulnerable, but things get so much better when you just let go and live authentically.”

 

For more information about Stonewall Tennis Minneapolis and how to join, visit their website.

 

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