In last week’s article, You've Done Four Months of Writing: Sloane, How's it Going?, I found myself questioning if I was doing what I set out to do when I first began writing for Bulletin. I shared some of the questions I had been pondering and asked for my readers to provide me with some feedback.
Following that article, I was in Palm Springs, California, to host the Second Annual Sloane Stephens Foundation Invitational Camp in partnership with the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Over the course of the weekend, twelve young, high-level tennis players from across the country joined me and my staff at Indian Wells Tennis Garden for a variety of enrichment activities.
Although I felt like I had strayed from my mission with writing, it felt good to be able to confidently affirm I was still fulfilling my mission for the Sloane Stephens Foundation and this camp.
In addition to on-court training, at camp we include off-court workshops on developing a responsible online presence, nutrition, and match play habits for our campers, as well as workshops for their parents on raising future champions and navigating college recruiting.
This year, my camp was pleased to collaborate with World Team Tennis, whose season coincided with our camp, so our student athletes could get a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at how the tournament is run, observe daily matches, and interact with world-class athletes up close and in-person.
The excitement did not end there. Traveling from Palm Springs down to San Diego, we were so proud to have five of our Love, Love Compton students competing at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Excellence Team Regionals. That was such a major accomplishment both for our players and the Sloane Stephens Foundation. So, let me be the one to give a big shout out to Alejandro, Kaylee, Isabella, Orlando, and Xander for representing Compton and the Sloane Stephens Foundation with their display of excellence.
If you've never heard of Love, Love Compton, it's another community initiative created by the Sloane Stephens Foundation that is using tennis as a holistic enrichment tool for young people and educational institutions:
I put a lot of pressure on myself not only because I want to win and excel in my respective profession, but also because I want to constantly make sure that I'm paying my blessings forward (especially to the young underserved, but ever so brilliant, communities of color). I am emotional when I see how much value my team and I have brought to others when I have the chance to slow down.
Throughout each of our camps, workshops, and programs, we interview our young participants to find out what inspired them over the course of their experience. I have been particularly struck by two of the responses we received this year. During the camp, a young lady revealed that she made more friends in three days than she had been able to make in months; and a young man shared how he feels he was given tools that will help strengthen his overall mental wellness.
The “friends” response is not new by any means, but the magnitude of the response is much greater when you know that young people have been deprived of in-person interactions for months (some, over a year). Many young people are still unable to interact with those outside of their classroom or overall learning environment. That is the reason, it filled my heart to know that my athletes looked forward to camp not only because of the activities we offer on and off-court, but also because we serve as a platform for new and safe human interactions/relationships.
The mental health of our youth has always been of primary concern to me. The pandemic has brought a lot of enormous hardships to young people. As an adult who has faced a number of mental battles, both on and off the court, I am continuously motivated by the young people who face life's rollercoaster without knowledge of resources or effective practices. Because of this, my team and I placed an extra emphasis on the mental component of camp. In hearing the young camper describe how he has struggled over the last year, mentally, but is walking away with tools to implement when he is facing anxiety, frustration, hopelessness, and uncertainty in his everyday life, I truly couldn't be prouder of our programming this year.
I enjoyed spending time with the campers. They always have an ability to recharge and refocus me. I can't wait until the next time we gather.
The team and I look forward to further pursuing our mission as our foundation continues to expand, evolve, and provide tools that empower the generation behind us on all levels, including educationally, emotionally, physically, mentally, and creatively.
If you are interested in supporting our efforts, feel free to donate to the Sloane Stephens Foundation by clicking HERE.
In the meantime, I will be finishing up this year’s play at World Team Tennis in Palm Springs. If anyone would like to come out to any World Team Tennis matches in the next two weeks, we would love to have you! Email me: Inquiries@sloanestephens.com !!! You can bring as many people as you want, all you have to do is cheer loud & proud
Thursday, November 18th 2021 3:00 PM-5:30 PM PT
Friday, November 19th 2021 6:00 PM-8:30 PM PT
Saturday, November 20th 2021 6:00 PM-8:30 PM PT
Sunday, November 21st 2021, 3:00 PM-5:30 PM PT
Tuesday, November 23rd 2021, 3:00 PM-5:30 PM PT
Wednesday, November 24th 2021, 6:00 PM-8:30 PM PT
Thursday, November 25th 2021, 2:00 PM-4:30PM PT
Friday, November 26th 2021, 3:00 PM-5:30 PM PT