Featuring: Kacey Walisundara and the Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation
It’s been proven that youth sports and activities develop important character traits, emotional, physical, social, mental and lifelong values in children. And, as school budget cuts grow larger with academics taking precedence over sports it’s no wonder that kids are missing out on the values and principles of organized sports.
The Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation (CYTF), whose mission is to promote the physical, emotional and social development of ALL youth who aspire to become active, productive and responsible citizens, is helping to fill that gap here in Colorado.
Today we are talking with Kacey Walisundara, a longtime CYTF special needs scholarship recipient. He also participated in a program the CYTF helps funds – USTA Colorado’s Star Search. For decades, the program developed, nurtured and promoted the tennis and life skills of identified kids from culturally-diverse communities. Star Search provided a platform for Kacey and others to excel in their tennis skills and expand their involvement in more formal competitive events.
Kacey, now 18 years old and a Freshman at Metro State University started playing Tennis at the age of 7 with his sister at community courts near his home in Green Valley Ranch. The courts, he recounts “were not very well maintained, but at least we could get out and play the game”. At the age of 11, a friend of Kacey’s mother, Ms. Anita recommended that he get involved with the CYTF and Star Search program.
You see none of Kacey’s schools had formalized tennis programs, no real coaching, and no help with court fees, racquets, strings, balls, etc. Star Search helped Kacey find amazing coaches, competitive play, and helped him expand his game. He really loves the game of tennis, but not just for winning, he has learned so much about life, and says he’s become a better person, friend and team player because of the sport, and the people he’s met along his tennis Journey.
I asked Kacey to think back to when he first started playing in the Star Search Program, about the values he gleaned from the program. First, he said, is “Being Focused”. Kacey feels that tennis has taught him how to pay attention to the task at hand, be it studies, faith, family or tennis. Second, is “Respect and Sportsmanship”. Kacey shared that his view of success is not just about winning the game, but about how you treat people and how you support them in the ups and downs of the game, and in life. When you get to know Kacey, you know that you have someone who cares about you, and has your back! Finally, being “Driven and Motivated” — Kacey has a never give up on your dreams attitude in Tennis, Education, Fellowship and Leadership.
Proof that dreams really do come true Kacey is on the tennis team at Metro State and is so excited to take his Tennis game to the next level. He’s looking forward to sharing the principles and values that he’s adopted from his many years in Star Search to help build a strong team and stronger individual players.
In closing, I asked Kacey who his favorite players were on today’s professional tennis tour. First was Roger Federer because of his humility after every win, on and off the court. Win or lose, Federer is a respectful player and person. A close second is Novak Djokovic for the humor he brings to the sport, and like Federer, the respect he shows to everyone, on and off the court.
A big THANKS to the CYTF, because they are making tennis dreams come true for thousands of Colorado kids and have done so since 1961. When you are thinking about what organizations to support on Colorado Gives Day, please make a pledge to Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation at https://www.coloradogives.org/coloradotennis/ or check them out directly http://www.colorado.usta.com/cta/about_us/youth_foundation/about_the_cytf/.
Until Next Time,