Winner Wonderland: Alisia

Coach Sanders is not only a tennis coach, but doubles as one of ACE's Parent Mentor Coordinators. Ms. Sanders was part of the original parent crew who stayed after school to teach children in our very first tennis camp. Her granddaughter, Alisia, was too young to participate in that camp, and just this past summer she was not only old enough to play but she also took home First Place! Here is her Winner Wonderland story:

It all started when I was six-year-old in kindergarten at Washington School. I was so excited and anxious about The ACE Project after school program. I remember it like it was yesterday, me and my friends standing there in the gym looking at Coach Eaker, Coach Sanders and Coach Klumpner, who welcomed us. We learned how to balance the ball and how to hold the racket for the first time. It felt so good to feel like I’m already good at the sport. It was a good experience, and I said to myself that I am coming back again next year because in my mind, if this program can teach me these many skills in one year, what else can I learn?

I made up in my mind then that I wanted to learn more about tennis. So, I stayed for four more years. It felt good to have something that I was pretty good at. The ACE Project took me on many trips where I had more fun ways to play tennis and watch tennis professionals play. At Return the Serve, we play so many fun games like lobster trap, bump up, while learning how to serve and rally. I then learned how to keep my eye on the ball when I am playing. Another thing I love about The ACE Project was the song that Coach James taught us: “It’s All about The ACE Project.” I love that song. I learned this song when I was in third grade and its stayed with me through today.

I love the words of day they teach us like sportsmanship, respect, listen, friendship, and many more. I even helped paint our tennis court in Riverdale, Illinois this year and was in commercials. The ACE Project did social emotional skill building with us. I really like that because it gave me the strength to express my feelings with my peers in a great way. It taught me that it is ok to have a bad day and how to deal with it. And thanks to that, I never got in trouble in school. The ACE Project gives me the strength to stand up for myself and not be bully.

The ACE Project gives me a skill that no one can take away and that is to dream that I can be anything I want to be, maybe even a tennis player. There is another coach who plays a big part of my life in The ACE Project that I miss. Her name is Coach Leah; she was a caring coach. All my coaches are caring. So, The ACE Project has a BIG impact on my life. It not just a tennis program. It’s my home away from home. It’s my second family. Five years later, I am still playing tennis with The ACE Project.

We are so excited to see such tremendous growth from our young ACE-ers, but it would not be possible without you! Join our Winner Wonderland campaign today and make a difference.

Susan Klumpner