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DISD’s P.E. Strategist receives USTA recognition

Donna ISD’s elementary afterschool tennis program was put on the national spotlight thanks to the hard work and dedication of DISD’s Physical Education (P.E.) Strategist Rigoberto Rivera. Rivera recently received recognition by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for his work in promoting tennis to over 200 fourth and fifth graders outside the P.E. classroom. As part of these efforts, Rivera and a team of coaches took part in staff development training provided by USTA.
     “It feels good being recognized for your efforts,” Rivera said. “Many times, things are achieved without anyone knowing how much work was needed to accomplish the job.  USTA representative Bobbie Cantu was very supportive in our efforts to bring more attention to the sport of tennis. Not only did the students learn about this sport, but the coaches learned a lot as well.”
     Rivera said he is glad that students are becoming more active and that they are discovering and enjoying tennis. “Tennis is a lifetime sport,” Rivera said. “It is low impact and a non-contact sport so it has a low risk of injury and can be continued well into your older years. I tell kids that learning a new sport cannot only help them physically, but it can also help them socially and emotionally.  When you learn a sport you can make new friends and you can also use it as a stress reliever. Any type of exercise or activity is great for kids. Especially kids that have a lot of energy.”
     Teaching the sport of tennis came about when the district implemented the Restoring Elementary Athletics in Donna’s Youth or R.E.A.D.Y. program. This initiative specifically targets elementary students because they don’t usually have the opportunity to learn a sport until they get to high school. In addition to tennis, students learn other sports like cross country, kickball, softball, baseball, flag football, basketball, soccer and volleyball. The goal is to encourage physical activity and to promote an active lifestyle in our elementary student population.
    “The R.E.A.D.Y.  program was created because we wanted to expose our elementary kids to different sports,” Rivera said. “We wanted 4th and 5th grade students here in Donna ISD to have more options to consider if they would like to participate in their middle school or high school years.  The elementary coaches at several campuses are the real stars of the R.E.A.D.Y. show. They are the ones who stay late to teach sports. Without them there would not be a program.”
     Rivera said he appreciates organizations like USTA because they encourage both students and coaches into taking a more active role in developing successful athletic programs for elementary students, as this serves as a conduit to middle and high school athletics. “I would like to thank USTA for supporting us with promoting tennis in our district,” Rivera said. “They not only helped us by training our elementary coaches, but they also provided some equipment to every campus in our district. We are happy to partner with USTA and will continue to work together to promote tennis and an active lifestyle at Donna ISD.”