As a wife, mother, and the Founder and President of Buddy Up Tennis, a nationwide organization providing adaptive programming for individuals with Down syndrome, I have found myself in multiple roles of late. These include teacher, therapist, coach, and peer. Professionally, I am coming full circle, and am back to the same kitchen table where we grew Buddy Up Tennis from one Athlete with Down syndrome, one Buddy volunteer and one Tennis Coach. Here we are, 12 years later, modifying our programs to serve our 25 Buddy Up Tennis communities across the nation. 

The strength and resiliency of our Buddy Up Tennis community, for whom the gold standard is deeply significant, has been enormously inspiring to me of late. We are all learning and growing during these unprecedented times, and retaining the integrity and quality of our programming is no easy task. Nonetheless, we have always met, and indeed exceeded, the challenge of creating quality opportunities to help our Athletes reach their fullest potential. As we reinvent the execution of our programs, our mission remains alive, vibrant, and strong.

On March 13, due to the health threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, we canceled all Buddy Up Tennis in-person programming. Just one week later, on March 21st, we came together as one nationwide Buddy Up Tennis community to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with a virtual Buddy Up Tennis Clinic at my home. We have since continued to impact lives and keep our Athletes fit and strong at home through ongoing, live, and interactive virtual opportunities.

The integrity of our weekly Buddy Up Tennis Clinics, which include core fitness components and skill development of all tennis strokes, has remained intact and accessible, right in the comfort of our living space. A key ingredient of our success is the opportunity for Athletes to interact with other Athletes, as well as with Buddies, Coaches, and community partners from around the nation. Coaches and volunteer Buddies remain an essential role in our weekly clinics, and we have found ways to uniquely engage them through various activities, including demonstration of drills and recognition of Athletes’ outstanding efforts.

Dedicated and supportive community partners from around the country involve themselves in each of our At Home clinics, enabling our sense of community to remain an essential Buddy Up Tennis theme. Most importantly, Buddy Up Tennis continues to provide our Athletes fuel for their passion and commitment to a healthy lifestyle of tennis, fitness, and fun. The results of a recent Athlete parent survey on our current efforts indicated that we have been able to replicate an environment that expects more, fosters confidence, and encourages growth, via Buddy Up Tennis At Home, as well as via additional program offerings.

Well before the onset of COVID-19, our Athletes with Down syndrome had long been deprived of meaningful, purposeful, and quality programming designed specifically for them. We have been meeting the need for this type of programming for over 12 years, and the COVID-19 era has only intensified the demand for our programs. True to our unstoppable spirit and commitment to our Athletes, we have added weekly virtual Buddy Up Zumba and Buddy Up Kickboxing classes, as well as Buddy Up Fitness On Demand. Each program adheres firmly to our core values, guiding principles and gold standard.

Technology connects us more than ever. During our weekly virtual clinics, it is so inspiring to see, for instance, a Buddy from Cincinnati, Ohio nominate an Athlete of the Week from Naperville, Illinois for his hard work.

We excitedly anticipate the return to in-person programming. When the day comes that we are all together again on the courts, we will be stronger and more united than ever. In the meantime, we will continue to impact lives and embrace the challenges. Of Buddy Up Tennis nationwide, it can never be more truly said than now: Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way!®