By Ronald Lyons, USTA Florida DEI Coordinator
USTA Florida continues to make progress as part of its Amplify initiative to help establish a more inclusive environment for our predominantly black communities across the state. In 2021, the initiative was integral in bringing tennis programming to communities that did not have those opportunities in the past, which created a level of exposure that led to more diverse groups having access to a sport.
“The Amplify team has come a long way since our inception. Throughout 2021, we were able to find our identity as a team and refine our mission,” said team member Magali Holt, USTA Florida’s Community Game Coordinator. “Despite some restrictions as a result of the pandemic, our team was able to host our first annual Juneteenth Slam event in Gainesville, followed by a very successful beginner tennis program to engage the Black community there.We hope to host more Amplify community tennis events and beginner tennis programs across the state by 2022 to offer. ”
The Amplify initiative, a major focus in 2022, aims to provide staff training and education, new tennis programming and more diverse partnerships. Building partnerships with diverse organizations and forming new tennis programs will ultimately ensure that more Black people will be exposed to the sport of tennis and can encourage and inspire other diverse communities to play tennis.
“Amplify was a much-needed addition to the drive of USTA Florida’s mission to promote tennis for all,” added team member Desirae McLaughlin, USTA Florida’s Adult Team Manager. “What started as a space to express shared concerns and experiences of black players and coaches has turned into a vehicle to bring about real change. We were able to turn our ideas into action that directly benefited our community. ”
It’s not just about play opportunities, either – USTA Florida’s Amplify Initiative also creates career opportunities. In 2021, the Amplify internship program was created to provide university students with ethnically diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to gain knowledge about how staff within the organization grow the game of tennis in our local communities. The interns focus a lot on staff development training, opportunity management and professional development.
“I was very excited about the internship program we established,” McLaughlin shared. “This program provided an opportunity for diverse students to learn how a non-profit organization functions at a high level and I am so excited to see where the internship progresses in 2022.”
By 2022, USTA Florida staff inequalities on racial inequality will be a focal point for the Amplify team to ensure that the organization’s knowledge on these topics continues to advance. Another big focus this year will be to support our Black coaches and work with industry partners to provide those coaches with diverse resources so they can stay informed and expand their skills within the professional Florida tennis community.
USTA Florida’s Amplify team has taken steps that will make an impact change in our Florida community for years to come. While what we have already achieved can be applauded, we still have work to do to ensure growth that can ultimately address the lack of diversity in our Florida tennis ecosystem.
USTA Florida believes tennis is for everyone. For more information on USTA Florida’s Amplify initiative, visit USTAFlorida.com/Amplify.