[I was recently invited to speak to the students in Anne Richmond’s community development seminar at Springfield College (syllabus here). There I met an inspiring young man named Yves Singletary. Yves has a vision for Springfield, and it is my privilege to be able to share it here.]
My name is Yves Singletary and I am a junior at Springfield College where I am studying Youth Development. While attending school in the Springfield area for the past two years, I have become interested in seeing what I could do to help. Looking to combine my passions for both tennis and helping people, I thought about starting a tennis program to help serve the inner city youth of Springfield. I have been around tennis for 8 years; most recently as an instructor at The Tennis Academy at Harvard, alongside the Harvard Men’s and Women’s tennis coaches. I am a graduate of the Tenacity program, which is a nonprofit organization that teaches tennis and literacy to inner city youth in Boston. I’ve had the opportunity to give back to the program by being a summer Site Leader and a volunteer on many different occasions. My experience with the organization has helped shape me in becoming the person I am today.
Growing up in the inner city of Boston, MA I understand the difficulties that come along with being an African American and getting ahead. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of supportive individuals who helped me to stay on track in order to get where I want to be. I would like to provide the youth of Springfield with the same supports and opportunities, to help better themselves and to help them reach their goals and dreams. In order to help this become a reality I believe there are three things to be focused on: Tennis, Education, and Community.
I would like to help integrate the game of tennis, so that poor children and children of color have access to this amazing sport. Usually children of color are given the options of football, basketball, and baseball. I would like to be able to offer them the option to learn the game of tennis. Tennis is one of few sports that can be played for life; there are tennis leagues of many different ages and levels throughout the world which allow people to come together and participate in this great game. Springfield is also fortunate to have the space, with beautiful public courts throughout the city.
Education is the key to success. No matter how fast a person can serve a ball or how well they can hit a jump shot, having a good education will help guide you through life. I would like to help provide Springfield youth the extra tutoring help they need to excel in school, in order for them to get an education that will provide them with the fundamentals to compete and succeed in college. I believe that if we don’t start to invest in our children’s education early on, then we will have to pay for it in the future, when those same children are on the streets and in our jails. If we can start early then we can turn around this negative spiral that has plagued our community and help to mold the future leaders of tomorrow.
Springfield is a city with rich history and pride, but over the years its reputation has begun to tarnish due to increased violence and sliding academics in public schools. I believe that through tennis we can help bridge the gap between the community and our public schools by formulating a network of supports. There are many different organizations in the city that are working towards the same goals of keeping our youth safe and helping to educate them. I believe if we can all find more ways to connect, share resources and provide each other with support we can be successful in restoring pride and respect to Springfield.