Jane Finch Minor Tennis League: Building strong families & communities

As a Community Recreation Programmer with the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division I am able to engage and build meaningful relationships with the children and youth on a daily basis.  

I had first started out as a volunteer in a children's program a couple of hours a week just to give back while I was in high school.  I had always dreamt of becoming a teacher and pursued that as my first career choice, once I graduated. I quickly realized that the life of a teacher was not for me. A set academic curriculum wasn't the way to helping these future adults become better members of society.  I needed those teachable moments and opportunities to help mold our future.  I left college with my degree in hand and took a leap of faith with the City and the rest as they say is history.  Or herstory? 

I have been working at the Driftwood Community Centre located in the heart of Jane and Finch creating much needed programs and actively participating within the community.  Through this position I was connected with Tennis Canada who wanted to launch a tennis program, a team tennis program.  At first I had my doubts as Tennis isn't necessarily the chosen sport in this neighbourhood.  In fact, it was seen as a high calibre sport which was much too expensive for anyone in this area to afford. It was for those that had countless hours to spend with an instructor feeding them balls and demanding perfection.  It was definitely not for this community. It was almost certain to fail. Right?  

Boy, were we wrong.  Attendance has been through the roof and climbing every session and this is our 6th so far.  We went from 120 in the first year to 169 this past season. We are able to offer 7 scholarships to participants to further enhance their skills, youth now have an opportunity to mentor those younger than them, volunteer and complete their school hours and all while learning valuable life skills that are transferable to any career they choose. We have also gone on to start 2 other leagues in the summer throughout the community. We were able to tear down the financial barrier, play the game of tennis not as individuals but as strong teams. 

The one aspect however of this program that is not easily measurable but is the most valuable is the idea of having parent volunteers as the team leaders.  I have been actively participating in sports since I was 4 and never have I seen such dedication, such commitment and such positive energy than what I've seen in this league.  Parents finally have a sport that they can take part in with their child instead of screaming from the sidelines.  This league has made an enormous step in the right direction to regain the family dynamic where bonds are formed between parent and child, something that was missing for a very long time around here. My son and I are living testament of that.  After a long week of work, school and extracurricular lessons we are able to get some time to play.  I think he enjoys it so much because he is better than me and continues to beat me with no mercy. What's Love got to do with it, right?

For the past 6 years as the convenor of the Jane Finch Minor Tennis League, I have had the honor of seeing all of these wonderful things come to pass and to be a part of what is guaranteed to be a legacy in the Jane and Finch Community.  

Good People, Great Sport, Great Life. We have discovered that tennis does matter. Aren't you all glad I didn't become a teacher? I sure am!!!