Four JTCC High Performance players, Cody and Coy Gray, Ben Schirmier and Andrea Vargas, were presented with the 8th FILA R.E.A.C.H. Award during JTCC’s annual GEICO Champions Celebration on May 27.
The FILA R.E.A.C.H. Award, which stands for “Recognizing Extraordinary Accomplishments with Courage and Humility”, was created as an homage to the achievements of FILA-sponsored athletes. This year’s recipients were honored for their commitment to serving the community throughout COVID-19 in JTCC’s GEICO Game On! Neighborhood Youth Outreach program.
Cody and Coy Gray, now 13 and 11 respectively, have been mentors and coaches in the GEICO Game On! program for several years. The brothers started their tennis journey at JTCC when each was three years old, progressing from the Tennis Whizz program to the prestigious High Performance Champions program. Their love for tennis is manifested through both their growth in the sport and in teaching tennis to underserved youth in the community.
“We experience great joy when we are able to give back to the community by teaching children the basic skills of tennis,” explained Cody. “It is great to see the excitement on these children’s faces as they learn how to hit the tennis ball.”
Ben Schirmier and Andrea Vargas have played key roles in making the virtual GEICO Game On! Program a success during the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Community Outreach Manager Ava Todd, the pair logged onto Zoom classes weekly, participating and leading activities designed to teach tennis strokes and ball handling skills. Their ability to quickly adapt and volunteer in the community during very uncertain times made them clear choices for the FILA R.E.A.C.H. Award.
Ben Schirmier,16, has trained at JTCC since 2019 in the Future Champions program. After signing up to volunteer, he quickly took the initiative to run fun games such as Simon Says and Freeze Tennis for the players. In the most recent session of the program, Ben co-taught a number of virtual classes with Ava, who praised him for showing “genuine care and enthusiasm for working with the players over Zoom, always making the kids laugh while pushing them to grow as tennis players.”
Andrea Vargas, 12, began training at JTCC two and a half years ago after receiving a tennis scholarship as a result of attending one of JTCC’s free community tennis festivals. Andrea went above and beyond by also volunteering as a coach in the Phase 2 program, which grants motivated players from the GEICO Game On! Program the opportunity to continue learning tennis at JTCC.
“Andrea has been a true leader over Zoom and on court through Phase 2,” commented Ava. “She is always eager to demonstrate swings for players and guide them through various drills and activities.”
FILA and JTCC both emphasize the importance of giving back to the community. Lauren Mallon, Senior Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships for FILA, presented the 2021 FILA R.E.A.C.H Award to these four deserving JTCC athletes, stating “Young adults like you will make a difference in these challenging times and will make our world a better place.”
To watch the presentation of the awards click here!