Building a QuickStart Tennis Pathway in Nelson County
Nelson County representatives, led by Parks & Rec Director Emily Harper, won the "most enthusiastic" award at the first QuickStart Tennis workshop we ever hosted back in 2009 and received some free equipment as a result. Nelson County has been going strong ever since.
Nelson County is a rural community with less than 15,000 residents located in central Virginia, just to the southwest of our home base in Albemarle County. It is a medium-sized county (~472 sq. mi.) with only 32 people per square mile. The population is 82% White Non-Hispanic and 13% Black. About 15% of the families live below the poverty line. Over 26% of the adult population is classified as obese.
There are two elementary schools - Rockfish River and Tye River and a middle and high school that share a campus near the County Seat, Lovingston. Nelson County Public Schools create a positive learning environment and have embraced tennis throughout the community.
Rockfish River Elementary - Diane Coleman has been the PE teacher at Rockfish for as long as we've been around and has been a QuickStart booster from the beginning. We've done numerous Go Bananas! visits at Rockfish, taken tennis professionals from the Tinsley Tournament for school visits and awarded Diane a STEP UP for QuickStart! professional development scholarship. When Diane wanted to expand the tennis program for her 360 students, we wrote and received a grant from the Nelson County Community Fund to buy her additional equipment. We train, equip and continue to support schools that commit to teaching QuickStart.
Tye River Elementary has a little over 500 students who are taught PE by Neece Donson. Neece is a QuickStart booster too. In addition to Go Bananas! visits, we have equipped the Head Start classroom at Tye River with their own equipment, awarded a STEP UP! scholarship to Neece and helped her get additional equipment for her program.
Kathy Helbert, PE teacher at Nelson Middle School has been teaching her students tennis for seven years. Many of her students have gone on to play on the High School's Girls' Tennis Team. There are four tennis courts at the combined middle/high school campus.
Nelson County is also home to Wintergreen Resort that has 22 tennis courts. Tennis Director Jon Sarosiek and teaching pro Kostyantyn Khoderiv are very involved with community outreach in the Nelson County schools.