Buddy Up Tennis is more than just tennis: It is a significant movement, propelled by volunteers, leading the way both on and off the courts in 24 communities nationwide. Each of the Buddy Up Tennis locations is led by a valuable parent volunteer who serves as the Location Coordinator and administratively prepares for every clinic. In addition to the efforts of the Athlete parents, the Buddy Up Tennis team includes volunteer Coaches who drive the Buddy Up Tennis mission forward on the courts. Finally, the Buddy Up Tennis Executive Advisory Board, another crucial element of the movement, is unique, in that its members also serve as volunteer coaches, coordinators, and advocates for our Athletes in the communities that we serve. These volunteer leaders have dedicated their time and talents to developing brave Athletes, on the courts and in the gyms, with the self-worth and confidence to achieve their fullest potential off the court. 

Rick Gibson, Columbus: On the courts, many know Rick Gibson as “the photographer,” but you may be surprised to learn that he wears many other volunteer hats at Buddy Up Tennis! Rick acts as Board Member, Legal Counsel, and Chief Financial Officer. He has captured the Buddy Up Tennis journey in photos from its inception in 2008 to every launch and event since. In addition to being the in-house skilled photographer, Rick’s important behind-the-scenes roles are vital to the healthy daily operations of Buddy Up Tennis as an organization. Rick’s skills and expertise guide the Buddy Up Tennis movement and impact nearly 650 Athletes nationwide. 

Kathy Szudejko and Lisa Arnold, Cincinnati: Ten years ago, Buddy Up Tennis experienced its first exciting expansion to its first city, Cincinnati, OH. The two Athlete parents, Kathy Szudejeko and Lisa Arnold, who took the lead in 2010, still serve as Location Coordinators today. Kathy and Lisa have shown amazing dedication to providing the Buddy Up Tennis opportunity to their children and others with Down syndrome in Cincinnati. Following in the trend of “firsts,” Cincinnati has also been one of the first locations to open up a Buddy Up Fitness program in their community. Kathy and Lisa have certainly set the bar high for all Location Coordinators, and they continue to raise that bar as they dedicate their time and talent to our Athletes in Cincinnati. 

Rich Sobieray, Columbus and Tampa: Coach/Coordinator/Board Member Rich Sobieray has shown great passion for our Athletes and programs since 2012. He began his involvement as a Coach in Columbus, and did not let his relocating to Florida get in the way of his Saturday mornings on the courts with our Athletes – he opened a Buddy Up Tennis location in Tampa, in order to share the opportunity with those who have Down syndrome in his new community. Off the court, Coach Rich serves as a volunteer member of the Buddy Up Tennis Executive Advisory Board, and he is instrumental in securing funds for the two Buddy Up Tennis locations in Southwest Florida. Rich’s unwavering and longstanding support of our Athletes is continually demonstrated in the energy and devotion that he brings with him on and off the courts. 

Mark Fazzina and Rob Griffiths, Columbus: Nearly every week, you can find Coach Mark and Coach Rob leading our Athletes to success at the Speed and Strength Fitness Station and on the Super Stars court in Columbus. But Rob’s and Mark’s passion for working with our Athletes does not stop at the courts – they extend their talents to the Buddy Up Tennis boardroom, as well. Both Rob and Mark have been instrumental in providing and expanding opportunities to support our Athletes in Columbus.


Joe Hasskew, Columbus: Coach Joe can be seen regularly on the courts, training and educating new Buddies and Coaches. As a member of our travel team, Coach Joe volunteers his time by sharing the Buddy Up Tennis curriculum across the country, traveling to various locations. Coach Joe is a busy guy: In addition to being a member of the Travel Team, he donates his time each Saturday to coaching our Shooting Star Athletes in Columbus. Coach Joe is determined to bring all of our Athletes to the next level both in Columbus and across the country. 

Join the Buddy Up Tennis Movement today, and share your talents by becoming a volunteer Buddy at one of our 24 locations nationwide. Click HERE to register online as a Buddy.