Buddy Up Tennis began over a decade ago with a mother, a son, a buddy and one determined coach. Today, our nationally-recognized program touches the lives of athletes with Down syndrome across the country.
Buddy Up Tennis began over a decade ago with a mother, a son, and two determined coaches. Today, our nationally-recognized program touches the lives of athletes with Down syndrome across the country.
Buddy Up Tennis began in the summer of 2008 when Beth Gibson, Founder and President of Buddy Up Tennis, would take her then 3.5-year-old son Will to Wickertree Tennis & Fitness Club while she and her older son, Keegan, played tennis.
Will was always fascinated with watching tennis, so two Wickertree staff members, Stephanie Anderson and Doug DiRosario, volunteered to teach tennis to Will, who has Down syndrome. To help Will learn, they researched techniques for teaching tennis to children with Down syndrome. From their research, Beth, Stephanie, and Doug realized that there was a real void in service to individuals with Down syndrome, as well as a need for organized tennis and fitness programs for these individuals. They took the initiative to make their dreams a reality, and held the first Buddy Up Tennis Clinic in December 2008 in Columbus, OH.
In 2010, Buddy Up Tennis expanded to its first city, Cincinnati, OH. There are now an inspiring 25+ chapters of Buddy Up Tennis nationwide. But Beth and her team did not stop with tennis. Athlete families began to share additional voids that the organization could fill through Buddy Up Tennis’s supportive environment, and in 2015, Buddy Up Summer Camp was born. Buddy Up Fitness was created in 2017 to fill the need for an additional ongoing fitness opportunity designed specifically for our Athletes. But tennis and fitness were just the beginning! Inspired by the high expectations of the Buddy Up Tennis environment, Athlete families began to share an overarching need for friendships and a program outside of the school system to educate their loved ones with Down syndrome and provide them with skills to assist with independent living and employment. Beth and the team listened, and in 2019, Buddy Up Life Skills was launched. In 2020, Buddy Up Connections, a friendship-building program, was created. Tennis is our foundation and continues to be the gateway to our organization. Propelled by our passion for our Athletes’ experiences of health and wellness, independence, and friendship, our story continues.