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Baker-Butler Elementary School

Building a QuickStart Tennis Pathway for Baker-Butler Elementary

Baker-Butler is a (PK-5) elementary school located on a rural 55-acre site in northern Albemarle County. Opened in 2002, Baker-Butler now has more than 625 students. QuickStart Tennis has been taught as part of the PE curriculum at Baker-Butler since the 2009/10 school year. SuperStarters Tennis Sports has offered an after-school program there for the past three years. A new after-school program kicked off on February 22, 2016 with 28 particpants.

When former QCV President Tessa Pehanick  transferred to Baker-Butler as a PE teacher for the 2014/15 school year, we knew Baker-Butler was going to take tennis to a whole new level. It also helped that the new Principal Steve Saunders and new Assistant Principal Wendy Eckerle are big QuickStart Tennis fans as well.

When Tessa called with an idea for Tennis Tuesdays for 40 second graders, we jumped at the chance to partner with the school. We had already developed a "tennis and nutrition immersion" pilot that combines tennis instruction, Go Bananas!, field trips to tennis matches and direct exposure to tennis role models, and were ready to give it a test run. The timing was perfect. A pre-kickoff site visit in the fall led to discussions of building three 36-foot QuickStart Tennis courts like the ones we had completed at Crozet Elementary in August. We have BIG plans for Baker-Butler!

School visit by Collin Altimirano and Henrik Wiersholm, players in the Charlottesville Men's Pro Challenger in October 2018.

The fifth season of Tennis Tuesdays at Baker-Butler wrapped up at the end of February 2019 with the Go Bananas! buffet. During the five sessions, 110 second-graders learned the basic skills of tennis and received Go Bananas! bracelets, posters and cards for Bananas, Warm Up/Cool Down, Apples, Water, Watermelon, Grapes, Brush & Floss, Peppers, Carrots, Manners, Cucumbers, Broccoli and Reading. Special guest, Sara O'Leary, the UVA Women's Head Tennis Coach, kicked off the first session and visited 500 kids in three other schools after the session.

Tennis Tuesdays
kicked off on December 9, 2014 with 80+ kids as the two other PE teachers, Eleni Heeschen and John Johnson, wanted in on the action for their students. Ally Houston -- Baker-Butler parent (three sons) and former #1 women's player at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, ITA tennis official, neighborhood QuickStart instructor and Co-founder of Red, White & Blue Tennis, stepped up to volunteer with the program. Principal Saunders and Assistant Principal Eckerle are very involved too. Everyone is having a FUN time! At the end of the eight-session program the kids are going to get a big surprise. Stay tuned . . .

First Session (Bananas!) -- There was a run on bananas in the cafeteria at lunch that day!

Lots of "on-court" action, and Principal Saunders even brought a banana!

Second Session (Green Beans!) -- Special Guests UVa Men's Tennis Team coaches -- Brian Boland, Dustin Taylor and Scott Brown


                                                   We think the adults had more FUN than the kids!

Third Session (Watermelon!)  -- new tennis bulletin board unveiled

  The Tennis bulletin board at BBES                          One participant wore a watermelon dress on Watermelon Day!

              Coach Ally worked on rally skills                                          Coach Lynda previewed the Watermelon card

Fourth Session (Cucumbers! and Cauliflower!)

   Coach P's shirt was AWESOME!                                 Lots of smiles!!!                                                         Tap ups

Fifth Session (Oranges!) -- Special Guests UVa Women's Tennis Coach Mark Guilbeau and UVa two players -- Danielle Collins and Maci Epstein

        Go Bananas! role models Danielle Collins (cucumbers) and Maci Epstein (cauliflower) show the kids how to rally

                Coach Maci helped out with team rallying                  Coach Danielle enjoyed all the hugs!

Danielle, Maci and Coach Guilbeau autographed team posters and schedule cards    Four college players. Just one helicopter pilot

Sixth Session (Broccoli!) After 10 days with no PE . . . things were a little wild. We're so tired of snow and ice!!! We're so happy to be playing tennis again!

Seventh Session (Grapes!) with special guest USPTA Pro, QCV President and Go Bananas! grapes role model Alina Ackenbom . . . and it was PAJAMAS Day!!! Who says you can't play tennis in pajamas? Not us!!!



Eighth Session (Carrots!) -- Tennis Tuesdays End-of-Session Fruit and Veggie Buffet

QuickStart Critters displayed in the window of the PE Office

What an excellent buffet!!! We had bananas, watermelon, grapes and oranges and carrots, cucumbers, green beans and broccoli

The Newsplex came to interview kids and Dr. Matt Haas, Assistant Superintendent, stopped by

There was even some tennis in the gym . . .

More photos on our Facebook Page.

We received some AWESOME thank-you notes from Baker-Butler students.



The second year of Tennis Tuesdays kicked off on February 2, 2016, one week later than planned due to Winter Storm Jonas. This year we're trying a six-week program. One benefit of Tennis Tuesday is that all grades have tennis in PE that day. Second graders just get some "special attention."

Session #1 - Bananas and Balanced Meals

                                                                                      Bucket Head is very popular

                                                                                            So is tennis hockey!

                                                                                         And koosh ball toss!

Session #2 - Apples

                                                                            Mrs. P demonstrates T (is for tennis) Ball Drop

                             Balancing a ball on a racquet while walking around takes concentration and hand-eye coordination

                                                                                                Red Light/Green Light

Our Donation to the 2016 Spring Carnival Raffle

Session #3 -- Carrots and Cucumbers

Today we did gym sprints, koosh ball toss, tap downs, "hand/volleyball" tennis, "golf" tennis and practiced drop and hit forehands. We also had two special guests - Philippe Oudshoorn, UVa Volunteer Assistant Coach and former UVa player, and Malcolm Peace, Camp Director for Yellow Fuzz Balls (Nike Tennis Camp) and former player and Assistant Coach at James Madison University.

<--- That's Mrs. P.'s lunch. Doesn't it look DELICIOUS?



Session #4 -- Berries

Today, Ms. P. had to be some place else, so we had to make do without her. Ms. Heeschen designed the three stations for today -- (1) Koosh ball and/or bean bag rally and wall rally with a partner; (2) Underhand toss and hit; (3) Rally over jump rope and cones. The kids did really well. They are catching on and are very coachable. When kids have FUN and succeed, they will pay attention and want to learn more.

Spring Carnival Tennis Trifecta Update!!! The winner is a Tennis Tuesdays participant.

Station 1

Stations 2 and 3

Session #5 -- Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage

After tap up and tap downs to warm up their eyes and brains, kids were divided into teams to toss and hit over a net. These kids are really coming along.

Second-graders doing fifth grade skills

Session #6 -- Oranges, Sleep and the Go Bananas! Buffet

Last session for 88 second-graders. The theme of the day was "WHY do tennis players eat oranges?" (Andres Pedroso) and "WHY do tennis players like to sleep?" (Mac Styslinger). And it was the Go Bananas! Buffet!!! The groups rotated through the gym playing tennis with special guest Dustin Taylor, Assistant Coach of the UVa Men's Tennis Team and role model on the WHY do tennis players eat balanced meals?" card, and the Go Bananas! buffet. Thanks to the generosity of Harri-Teeter at Hollymead, all 88 kids were treated to bananas, apples, strawberries, baby carrots, cucumber slices and broccoli florets. Each student received a Go Bananas! drawstring bag and Go Bananas! poster and were given a WAHOOWA t-shirt provided by Virginia Athletics. Everyone had a great time!

     Asst. Principal Eckerle and Principal Saunders stopped in                                    Dustin Taylor talking to the kids

       Coach Dustin in action in the gym                                                                    The Go Bananas! Buffet


They were on their own for the third year while QCV's QuickStart Coordinator recovered from foot surgery. Pretty hard to play tennis on one leg!  The sessions went very well and they even sent a few photos of the Go Bananas! buffet.





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