South Whidbey’s love affair with tennis is being kindled in the hearts of local youngsters through Alex Foode and the Parks and Recreation District’s camps this summer.
Foode is in her first year as the head coach at the tennis camp after assisting Karyle Kramer and Eric Drew the past four years.
Before heading off to Washington State University last fall, Foode played tennis for four years at South Whidbey High School and traveled to Edmonds three times a week in the winter to practice.
Foode competed in club volleyball at WSU but did not have time to play tennis. She said she will pick tennis back up when she transfers to Western Washington University for the upcoming school year.
Coaching the tennis camp fits her personality, Foode said.
“Since I have been little, I have always been the caretaker of everyone, and even now I have friends that call me ‘Mom,’” she said. “Since I can remember I have loved to nurture, guide and help others. Because of these passions I have decided to study education.”
Foode added she also took up coaching because some of her greatest role models are her coaches.
“They have guided and helped me become the person I am today,” she said.
Foode will direct three camps this summer. Depending on the number of kids, each camp can have up to three divisions (6-10 years old, 11-14 and 14-17).
The next camp runs July 9-12 and the final one is July 30 to Aug. 2.
Her goals for camp are to help the kids gain confidence and have fun.
“At this point in their lives it is so important to learn social skills and to build confidence in who they are and start to have an idea of what activities they really enjoy and might want to do,” Foode said. “These short sports camps are a great way of giving the kids a taste of sports like tennis.”
For the older campers, learning to become smart and consistent players is also emphasized by Foode.
“I try and tell them as much as I can that it is not the biggest or the strongest tennis player that wins, but the smartest,” she said. “I also wish for them to understand that it is OK to fail when learning and that I expect them to struggle with every new concept or skill that I introduce to them. I want them to not take shame from a missed shot but learn and grow from it instead.”
Foode said her passion for teaching goes beyond tennis.
“I am also a project leader in my old horse 4-H group (Whidbey Wranglers) and have been giving horse-riding lessons to younger 4-Hers for the last three years.”
She sees coaching tennis and riding as steps to becoming a better educator in the future.
“Coaching is somewhat like training wheels for teaching,” she said.