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QuickStart PRO at Yancey Elementary School

QuickStart PRO . . . Coach Nicole's Excellent Adventure with Yancey and Scottsville Elementary School Students
July 2013

QuickStart PRO is an innovative program which is sending professional tennis resources to rural counties in central Virginia. QuickStart Tennis is taught to summer school students during the school day. This is the first summer for Yancey Elementary School students, and since Yancey summer school is being held at Scottsville Elementary this year, Scottsville students get to participate too.

The three-week session is being led by Nicole Parker, a "veteran" QuickStart PRO who taught in Buckingham County last summer and in Cumberland County this June. She is also teaching in the afternoons at Simpson Park in Esmont. Nicole is a member of the Longwood University's Women's Tennis Team and an Elementary Education major. Last year Nicole worked with QCV Board member Rich Michaels in nearby Buckingham County. This year, she's on her own!

Nicole will be documenting her experiences in Albemarle County this summer. Read and ENJOY!

Week One -- Day One

** Coach Rich was there to help kick things off. **

Today (July 8th) was the first day of Summer School Tennis at Scottsville Elementary School which also held students from Yancey Elementary School. My first class was at 8:30, but they didn't show up until around 8:40 just because of the hectic morning on the first day! It was perfectly fine that they showed up late because we still got everything done that I wanted to accomplish today. There were only four, yes I said four, students in my first class. We did introductions with names and a fun fact about each student and then I went over some rules that I have while we are playing tennis, such as no hitting other students with the racquets. Believe it or not, it does happen and I have seen it happen before!

After we did the introductions, we did some balancing techniques and then once that was mastered we headed to tap-ups. Most of these students have been through or done some tennis before. I was very impressed with one class with their tap-ups that I decided to do a tap-up challenge already. The kids were practicing and telling me that they got 65 tap-ups and 80 tap-ups and I just did not believe them, so the challenge really proved me wrong because one student got 104 tap-ups and then the next got 164 tap-ups, and I can't even believe this, but two other students got 195 tap-ups. How did they do this? I have no idea, but I was very impressed and just seeing the smiles on their faces when they accomplished what they did was heart-warming. [Editor's Note: Jamie Beeler, PE teacher at Yancey, has done a great job getting kids at Yancey excited about tennis and QCV has been working with Yancey since last fall to build a tennis pathway at Yancey and build a tennis tradition in the Esmont Community. Check it out here.]

I was suppose to have five classes a day, but my last class did not show up just because they didn't have any students. Not having five classes is perfectly fine with me because I then got to relax and get everything ready for the next day!

After I left Scottsville, I headed over to Simpson Park. I am there from 2:00 -5:00 p.m. to provide tennis lessons to anyone wants to learn. I was lying there and fell asleep which felt amazing since I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to get everything ready to leave to drive this way for the next three weeks. I was exhausted! At 2:00 I had 6 kids and 4 adults who showed up. It was awesome to see so many people, but I wish there were some designated time slots for different age groups because it was very difficult working with students no older than 12 and also working with adults at the same time. I managed to get it done and it seemed like everyone had a blast playing!

My first day was awesome at the school and at Simpson Park and it is going well with my host family, the Rays! They are so sweet and welcomed me into their home like I was their own. I am very thrilled to have a family who took me in for these next three weeks.

Kindergarteners get an introduction to QuickStart Tennis

The beginning of the tap-up competition for rising 4th graders

Week One -- Day Two

Today was a very interesting day. My first class of the day were new kids so I had to do what I did on day one with them and then transition over to today's plans for the rest of the classes. That was not the challenging part. The part that bothered me a little is when during my first class, I was told that I had to now move outside for tennis because they were working on the cafeteria. [Editor's Note: Construction on the gym was supposed to be completed last Friday. When that didn't happen, the cafeteria was the indoor option.] Okay, so I had all of the four kids, yes only four kids, in my first class to help me carry everything out. I asked if I could leave the nets up on the stage and I was told that was perfectly fine, well during my second class the custodians came walking out with the nets in their hands. Now what am I going to do with these and just how am I going to get all this equipment back inside? My final class of the day was whining and complaining because it was too hot outside, so I ended the class 15 minutes early and had them help me carry everything in. They said they would do "anything" to go inside so that was the deal. 

Okay, enough of the drama . . . let's get down to what the students actually did today during class. We warmed-up with tap-ups and then either finished our tap-up challenge or just started the challenge. 400 tap-ups was the record . . . well, I had to stop not one but two students from going any farther because I think they could have gone all day. Yes, 400!!! I could not believe it and they were both from the same class. It was unbelievable! After the tap-up challenge we worked on tap-downs because tomorrow we are going to have yet another challenge! The kids told me that tap-downs were way too easy so we will see about that when we do our challenge tomorrow!

Simpson Park was not as crowed as it was yesterday, but that is perfectly fine with me because I was exhausted from the beginning of the day! I had 5 people today, 3 children and 2 adults and I told them that starting next week we will be having designated times for specific age groups because having adults and students together is a very difficult task.

I look forward to seeing what is in store for tomorrow. Hopefully it does not rain because as of right now there is no where for me to go with the students to play tennis. I am keeping my fingers crossed!!!!!

Week One -- Day Three

It's Wednesday and I only have one more day until I can have a nice long relaxing weekend. Wait, no, I was told today that Summer School is no longer three weeks, Monday - Thursday, but now it is two weeks, Monday - Friday. This is a complete shock to me because I am supposed to be working back in Richmond on Friday, so it looks like I am going to have to miss out this Friday in Scottsville.

With that new news, I thought nothing else could get any crazier. Well with just my luck it starts raining outside, so the kids and I had to quickly grab all the equipment and run inside and just sit in the hallway until someone found us a place to play. Both the gym and the cafeteria are being worked on, but the gentlemen in the cafeteria were nice enough to stop for the day and let me finish the rest of my classes. Wow what a day it has been, but with all the laughter and funny jokes, all I could do was put a smile on my face.

The students did tap-downs today and also did their tap-down challenge. In my last class you wont believe who won . . . Ms. Gray won. Yes, she beat all of her students with 135 tap-downs. The students were amazed and so happy that when she finished they were cheering and clapping and jumping up and down, up and down.

We started working on self-rallies, which to the kids are extremely easy because they are just like tap-ups but now the ball can actually hit the ground! Tomorrow we will be working on more self-rallies and then guess what??? A CHALLENGE!

At Simpson Park today only one student showed up and that was Elizabeth! She is a very dedicated little girl and will be there as much as possible. Elizabeth and I got in a good hour before the rain started pouring down on us, but she was determined to still play. We went under the pavilion which has a wall and she picked up a ball and her racquet and starts hitting on the wall. I started counting and the most she got was 15 in a row. The wall beats everyone, but today I think Elizabeth beat the wall.

Tomorrow's Tennis Stars

Week One -- Day Four

This week has flown by, and even though tennis goes until Friday, I will not be there tomorrow. Today the kids warmed-up with tap-downs and of course they asked if we could do another challenge so to make them happy I said OF COURSE! All of these challenges are really making the kids work a lot harder when they are practicing because they all want to win. Not only did we do a quick tap-down challenge, but we also worked on self-rallies and guess what? Yes, another CRAZY CHALLENGE!

I was very impressed with how well all of my students are picking up on the techniques and how well they are really enjoying tennis! I drove back to the Ray's house for lunch before I had to go over to Simpson Park and right after I ate my lunch, I passed out on the bed . . . it really looks like these students have worn me out! Taking that little nap really energized me for Simpson Park, but 10 minutes into hitting it started pouring.

So that meant I got to go home earlier, which also meant that I got to go watch my brother, Kyle, who played tennis at College of Charleston play in his match at Salisbury Country Club! This week in Scottsville was such a blast and I can't wait to see what next week has in store for me! I do know of a nice Potluck dinner Thursday night!!

The Rays could not have been any better to me. So thank you to Linda and Brian for a great first week at their beautiful home!

Week Two -- Day One

It's MONDAY! It feels so good to be back at Scottsville and Simpson Park, but it's a little upsetting to know that this is my last week here. Today at Scottsville, I was outside on the blacktop because the gym is still being occupied with tables and chairs and a lot of other stuff and the cafeteria is also being worked on . . . hoping sometime this week I can be inside because it is only suppose to get hotter and let me tell you it was really hot outside today. The kids were not liking it at all, so my compromise to them was that if they work hard for a good 30 minutes, then we could take a 5 minute water break inside. Let's just say this worked for some of the classes, but not all of them. The students just did not like the heat at all and they tried to stay in the shade as much as they could. 

We warmed up with tap-ups, tap-downs, self-rallies and then rallies with a partner just to get them moving and then I taught the students how to hit a forehand. Once I went over all the crucial steps of how to hit a forehand, it was time for the students to stand up, find a partner and try to hit forehands over the net. While one partner was hitting the ball over the net, the other partner had their racquet on the ground and they were to catch the ball. I must say these students really know how to play tennis! I saw perfect forehands all throughout the day today and was amazed.

At Simpson Park, I only had three people today and we only stayed for an hour and a half because of how hot it was, or maybe because I was working them too hard???? I would like to think that I am working them hard that they needed to stop! Not only was it hot outside, but it is always 10 degrees hotter on a tennis court so could you only imagine how hot it really was for us. I am hoping for a little rain to cool things down, but in the forecast, there is none . . . I am really looking forward to the Potluck dinner on Thursday starting at 4! Bring your friends and family and join us for some fun! Tennis starts at 2 and then the dinner at 4!!

Week Two -- Day Two

Stinky, sweaty, stinky, sweaty is all I can say. We were outside again on the blacktop on another hot, hot, hot day. I had the last class yesterday help me bring in all the equipment, including the nets, so guess what the first class got to do this morning? Yes, they got to help me carry everything back outside. I think they enjoyed doing this because they were all fighting over who got to take the nets out and who got to carry the buckets. I think we could have stayed in the cafeteria arguing about it for their whole class time! I finally assigned jobs and before you know it everything was outside and we were ready to get started! 

Today we did a warm up of forehands because the boys just love seeing how hard they can hit it. I said you could only hit it hard if you showed me seven perfect forehands, and of course they did it with no hesitation. After the forehands, I showed everyone what a backhand looks like . . . and then the students got up, got a different partner, and tried hitting backhands over the net. "Nicole, this is too hard." I can't tell you how many times I heard that sentence today, but once I came around and showed them what they were doing wrong and showed them again the correct way, all my students really got the hang of it. Not long after the students mastered the backhand, I kept getting asked if they could just rally back and forth with their partner. With all the hard work and practice, I said lets go inside and get a sip of water to stay hydrated and then we can come back outside and you can do whatever you want with your partner for the last 5 to 10 minutes.

So having them rally back and forth with one another was not the best idea because they are nowhere near ready, but they were all laughing and having a good time! In my last class of the day, Cody says, "Nicole you have a tick in your hair." Of course I freak out. Then I told him to come point to it and what he thought was a tick was just my hair tie keeping my hair off my neck on this hot summer day. Cody had me worried for a while, but once he knew what it was and once I knew that he was only pointing to my hair tie we were both relieved.

It's two o' clock and it is time for Simpson Park. Right when I drove up, it starts raining, so Elizabeth and I go and sit under the pavilion until it stops raining. It only rained for about 15 minutes, but it was a down pour and the only bad thing about it raining on tennis courts is that they take a long time to dry. We sat and sat and SAT until 4 o'clock. Finally the courts were dry. I thought we missed a lot of time, so now is my time to really work Elizabeth to her potential. I must say I worked her pretty hard because at 4:30 she said, "Nicole, I am done for the day!" She goes up in the shade and just lays down and pours water on her face!!! We only played for 30 minutes, but it was a good 30 minutes. She sure is going to sleep well tonight!! Sweet Dreams Elizabeth!

It was such a beautiful day outside. When I got home, the Rays were outside in their pool! I bet it sure did feel nice to take a swim in this hot weather. I decided to go rinse off in the shower and then grab my book and step outside and read for a while! It was so peaceful and felt great in the shade! I am really looking forward to the Potluck dinner on Thursday!

Week Two -- Day Three

It's Wednesday and everyone knows what that means . . . the week is almost over! The teachers may want the week to be over, but I sure don't. I am going to miss these students very much because I have had so much FUN with each and everyone of them. Once again the first class had to help me carry the equipment out from the cafeteria and out onto the blacktop. Let's just say it did not go as smoothly as it did yesterday! The maintenance men were so polite and patient with us while we were destroying everything in sight. Once everything was out and set up, it was time to warm up with some forehands, and then it was off to backhands. Then we learned something very new today . . . the SERVE! The serve is difficult to master since the students are so used to letting the ball bounce. On a serve you have to hit it out of the air. Difficult, for Yancey students, is not a word in their vocabulary because they did it without any trouble. 

It was my third class of the day . . . the kindergarteners. They were so tired and worn out from recess that they didn't want to play tennis, so before we even started, we took a field trip inside to use the restroom, get a big gulp of water and cool off for a minute or two. Once everyone was feeling better, we stepped outside again. Then all I heard was "It's too hot . . . I am sweating . . . Nicole can we go back inside." Let me say it was really hot outside today and every child was sweating and sweating and sweating. I told the kindergarteners that if they do well with their forehands and backhands that we could sit under the shade for 5 minutes to rest, but they still didn't like that! Some were playing and others were sitting. I tried and tried but after enough trying I just gave up and let them sit there in the heat.

My last class of the day may be my favorite just because the students are so sweet. Right when they walked out, Candy gave me a bracelet and a small ceramic chair that she painted. See this is why they are my favorite class!!! Thanks Candy! Once again, this class had to help me carry the equipment back into the cafeteria, and let's just say this time did not go any better than the morning crew. I once again apologized to the maintenance men who were standing there helping my students get all the equipment in the door. Once it was put away properly, the students ran to the water fountain and drank and drank and drank some water.

At around 1:30 it started thundering and lightning and raining so hard that Linda Ray did not want me driving over to Simpson Park. I am glad she said "no" because on my way there at around 2:45 there were some tree limbs on the road and a lot of debris. If I had been driving in the storm, something could have come down on my car. What a safe call by Mrs. Ray! I got to the Park at around 3:00 and of course no one was there. The courts for the most part were drying pretty quickly, so I waited and waited and waited until 3:45 and then decided to head back to the Ray's house to sit by the TV and relax. Dinner sure does smell good tonight!!!!!

Hitting on the blacktop

Week Two -- Day Four

Wow, time really does fly when you are having FUN because it is now Thursday and I only have one more day left with these amazing students! I was wishing that maybe either the cafeteria or the gym would be available to me the last two days of class . . . but I guess I was wrong. What exactly are they doing in the gym anyway? Every time I walk by the gym with my students to get a drink of water, the maintenance people are sitting down doing absolutely nothing. They are taking my space and doing nothing with it. Today it was all cleared out as well . . . I just don't understand sometimes, but the students enjoy taking nice long water breaks inside, so I guess it's okay that we are stuck on the blacktop. 

We warmed up with forehands. This is the stroke that all the kids love because they are amazing at them and they feel proud when they hit it really high over the net and their partner can't reach it. Next we did more backhands and then serves and then it was definitely time for a water break inside. We had about 10 minutes left and I knew I had one more thing to do with the students...VOLLEYS! Volleys are so easy that I thought 10 minutes would be enough. I showed the students what to do and, of course, they were masters. Some of them even laughed a little because they were so easy. Well, of course it is easy when I throw the ball right to your racquet and all you have to do it punch it back!

Today was bitter sweet because it was my last and final day over at Simpson Park and my last night at the Ray house! I must say only three people showed up to play tennis from 2-4, but my main man Gavin showed up and he was so fun and happy that it made me happy to see him having so much fun. After I played with Gavin for an hour it was my time to work Elizabeth for a good 30 minutes. When I asked her if she was ready she said, "No." I wonder why? Last time I worked with Elizabeth, I worked her so hard, but I only worked her hard so that she can get ready for her camp that is coming up in August. At 3:30, everyone was done and just starving so we all went and sat down by the picnic tables and ate sandwiches and chips and lots and lots of cookies. It was hard to say goodbye but I knew I would see Elizabeth and Gavin again tomorrow during school!

Back to the Ray's and they were cooking fish, so of course I could not say no so round 2 for dinner here I come! Fried fish and mac and cheese and fresh cucumbers and corn from the garden . . . how could you beat that for a last and final meal with the Ray family! Once dinner was over I went in my room and gave them a gift that my mom and I put together from the Virginia Diner which was full of different types of salsa, honey, pancake mix, and of course peanuts! The kids were not in the kitchen when Linda was opening the gift so she decided to hide them away . . . just for her! Can anyone say SMART! That's exactly what I would have done with all those yummy peanuts!

One more night here and then I am back in Richmond. Do I really want to leave? No! I could say here all summer and teach these students tennis all day everyday with a few rainy days in between!

Final Day
My final day here at Scottsville went by way too quickly. I got off to a slow start because I just did not want to get up out of bed. Then I realized that I was leaving to go back to Richmond after my last class, so I then had to pack all of my clothes. Let's just say I am not a big morning person . . . so I move very slowly and that caused me to show up at school around 8:15. Once again both the gym and cafeteria were both being used. Well "being used" is the wrong term to use. Let's just say that the people in them were just sitting there doing absolutely nothing which once again pushed me outside onto the blacktop. Another hot day and the kids were so over being outside that I said okay you can do whatever you want. They took that too full advantage and literally did whatever they wanted to do. Some played tennis and others just sat in the shade where most of the teachers were! I passed out the "Go Bananas!" cards and gave my kindergarteners a towel to take home and show their mom and dad. My last class helped me pack up all the equipment and then we searched the school for Mr. Dommer and of course we found him. The kids put the two nets on the stage and the two buckets of balls and racquets into the equipment room. It was now time to say goodbye and head back to Richmond, only find out that I am working later that night. I got a phone call from my roommate at school who asked if I wanted to go to Farmville for the weekend, so I quickly called my mom and ask her if she would work for me, and with a mom like mine, of course she did. I got home and unpacked my stuff and then packed a new bag for the weekend and headed to the beautiful FARMVEGAS!!!

Have a good rest of the summer and thank you for letting me work with these amazing students who attend both Scottsville and Yancey!


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