Coach's Corner: Ms. Janet Eaker
While Ms. Janet Eaker, or Coach Eaker, may be the physical education teacher at Washington Elementary School, her role goes well beyond this as she serves as a mentor to many of her students. Before The ACE Project existed, several children who graduated returned from junior high and high school to visit, eager to show off their new basketball skills after learning the fundamentals of the game from her. Now, as an ACE coach as well as a long-time tennis advocate, we don't believe it will be long before graduates return to show her their new skills with a tennis racket. Coach Eaker is quick to offer her leadership skills and enthusiasm for the sport, and much of our success is credited to her relentless advocacy for tennis at Washington.
ACE: How did you get involved with ACE?
Coach Eaker: [Susan] Klumpner was the social worker at Washington School and started The ACE Project. She asked me to be a part of it. At the time, I was coaching other sports. Once those commitments were completed, I became a part of the program.
ACE: What has been your role in helping students excel on and off the court?
Coach Eaker: On the court, I am the team leader for the tennis component of the comprehensive ACE Program. I assist K-6 grade students in learning to play tennis by following the ACE curriculum. I also provide homework assistance to the children in the program. Off court, I include a tennis unit in my Physical Education classes. I also encourage my kids to try every day to excel at whatever they're doing. I try every day to listen, hug and love my kids.
ACE: Why is ACE important, in your opinion?
Coach Eaker: The ACE Project is so important to my kids for so many reasons. It gets them active. They're able to experience various activities in a safe environment. They can relax and have fun. They explore their feelings, they get homework assistance and engage in various academic activities. They learn a lifelong sport that otherwise they would never have a chance to experience. They come to a place where they are safe and loved and happy.
ACE: What is your favorite memory as an ACE coach?
Coach Eaker: I have so many favorite memories, but some of the special ones are kids asking me when tennis is going to start. Seeing the look on their faces when they get their "tennis " letter. Watching kids that have been in the program since Kindergarten and are now in 5th grade and being able to see how much they've grown, how important this program is to them and their parents and just experiencing the joy they have for those 2 hours after school.
ACE: What are you looking forward to in 2018?
Coach Eaker: In 2018, I'm looking forward to getting more kids involved in the program, kids that have never experienced a structured program, have never played tennis, have never been a part of a multifaceted program. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the police partnership program so that it can take place at Washington in the future.
ACE: Who is your favorite tennis player and why?
Coach Eaker: My favorite tennis player is Novak Djokovic. I admire his dedication, his incredible athletic ability, and his sense of humor. His accomplishments are legend. he is the first player since Rod Laver to hold all four Major titles at one time, first player ever to win Major titles on 3 different surfaces, 8th player to achieve a career grand slam. He has also won 30 Master 1000 titles, countless other tournaments, 12 Grand Slam titles, and he accomplished all of this during the Federer/Nadal era. I am hoping he can once again rise to the top and win a few more tournaments.