JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
GRANITE SHOALS — Developing a love for tennis is not the only function of the Roddick Youth Tennis Foundation.
That was clear when the foundation’s Blanche Roddick approached Rob O’Connor, superintendent of the Marble Falls Independent School District, to tell him the foundation would underwrite three district awards for $2,500 each at the end of each school year.
One of the awards will go to an elementary teacher, while the other will go to a secondary teacher. O’Connor said he and staff members are discussing a recipient of the third award.
“We’re currently working out the parameters,” he said. “It may be something like Innovator of the Year. We’ll keep the parameters loose. We want to honor people who are contributing to the community as well as getting somebody who’s a well-rounded person implementing a lot of programs.”
The tentative plan is to recognize those individuals during the annual Vegas by the River fundraiser benefitting the Roddick Tennis Center in Granite Shoals each November.
Blanche Roddick, the mother of former professional tennis player Andy Roddick, is a strong supporter of teachers, O’Connor said.
“She has a background in teaching and felt our teachers across the nation are people who need to be recognized for working with youth,” he said. “It was her passion that created these awards. She thought of it.”
“We’re just trying to think of other ways we can touch some lives,” Roddick said. “This is what we came up with. We think it’s an area not that’s not recognized.”
In addition, O’Connor announced the school district is committed to restarting the after-school tennis program and is searching for a tennis expert to teach the sport to the youth. Before he was hired as the head tennis coach at Marble Falls High School, the after-school program was taught by Jeff Savage using the two QuickStart tennis courts at the Roddick Tennis Center.
The program will be conducted Monday-Thursday for at least two hours each day.
“It’s a paid position,” O’Connor said.
If a current staff member is hired, the district will pay a coaching stipend, he said.
O’Connor couldn’t hide his happiness about the awards and restarting the after-school program.
“It’s great to know we’re going to have a long and fruitful relationship,” he said with a grin, “(The Roddicks) came into my life today and, boy, am I a winner.”