Marquette Wire

Mulcahy assists Brown Deer Tennis program

Life After Tennis group helps reignite interest at high school level

Mulcahy+%28top+right%29+played+tennis+at+Marquette+from+1956+to+%2759+%28Photo+via+the+LAT+Brown+Deer+Community+Tennis+Report%29
Mulcahy (top right) played tennis at Marquette from 1956 to '59 (Photo via the LAT Brown Deer Community Tennis Report)

Mulcahy (top right) played tennis at Marquette from 1956 to '59 (Photo via the LAT Brown Deer Community Tennis Report)

Mulcahy (top right) played tennis at Marquette from 1956 to '59 (Photo via the LAT Brown Deer Community Tennis Report)

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This story is the third part in a three-part series featuring Marquette alumnus and tennis benefactor Charles “Chas” Mulcahy. Read the first and second stories here.

In 2011, the village of Brown Deer was in need of new athletic facilities. The previous facilities were run down, and the proposal for renovations would cost taxpayers $22 million during a recession.

“We had been struggling financially for a few years and taxes were high,” said Deb Kerr, superintendent of the Brown Deer school district. “We had to convince the taxpayers that this was the right decision to make for the educational programs of our community and also that we would be great stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”

In November 2011, the referendum for the upgrade passed. In 2012 construction was completed for brand-new athletic facilities that included revamped tennis courts. But there was no one to play on them.

“We had these beautiful tennis courts that were sitting empty during the summer,” Kerr said. “I thought we could do something to build up the (tennis) program since tennis is a lifetime sport.”

“Our (tennis) lesson program had become stagnant, and we were looking to offer something new to the residents in the community of Brown Deer,” said Brown Deer recreation director Chad Hoier.

A year ago Kerr met Charles ‘Chas’ Mulcahy at a Rotary Club luncheon, and the two struck up a conversation. Kerr played both field hockey and basketball at Valparaiso University and knew the importance of having quality recreational sports programs in her town. After chatting with Mulcahy she learned about his tennis background and decided he was the perfect fit to help revive the program.

Mulcahy enlisted the assistance of the consultants from the Life After Tennis Consulting Group, a group he founded that consists of members from both of Marquette’s tennis teams.

The consultants developed a summer program for Brown Deer that they hoped would turn into a year-round program. LATCG collaborated with the Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation to adapt programs that MTEF already had in place to the Brown Deer community. MTEF also provided Brown Deer with equipment such as racquets, ball hoppers and tennis balls as well as tennis instructors. It’s the first time these organizations have all come together on a project.

“The hardest part is to get all the parties to corporate and execute on what they committed on,” said Ana Pimienta, who worked on the project and played on the Marquette women’s tennis team before graduating last year. “It is a project that we want to implement, but as consultants, we just give our advice. A big part of (the collaboration) was constant communication and having a solid documentation of our work because you want that formality to make it official and something that people will follow through on.”

Originally the group set out with a goal of having 20 kids sign up for the program, but expectations were exceeded – 33 kids signed up.

“Working with community members, making calls and coordinating all the parties we were able to make it come together,” said Marquette senior tennis player Erin Gebes, who was one of the consultants that worked on the project. She was awarded earlier this year for her work.

“This is a great example of what can happen when people come together for a common purpose,” Kerr said.

The program was successful in its first summer. In addition to the high enrollment numbers, Brown Deer has added tennis to school curriculum. The Brown Deer High School boys’ tennis team has had more people try out for the team this year than any year in recent memory.

“Tennis is what I know best, so to be able to bring a sport to kids that might have not otherwise been able to play is pretty special,” Gebes said.

Hoier said most of the success relies on instruction, setup, structure and staff. “I think

“I think staff is key,” Hoier said. “If you have people that are passionate about teaching tennis, that can be infectious to the kids.”

One of the staff members that has made the project possible is Frank Parker, a retired command sergeant major. After serving in the Army for 45 years, Parker wanted to find a way to give back to a community that had given so much to him when he was serving by doing things such as sending letters and care packages. Taking what he learned from his time in the military, Parker said he is able to extend valuable life lessons to kids enrolled in the program.

“(I try to teach students to) do the right thing, (have) leadership, honor, dedication and to be proud of what they are doing,” Parker said. “When they get upset, you have to tell them, ‘Look, what you are doing is great … Look at it as a learning tool to be better.’”

On Sept. 22, the consultants produced a 27-page report to the Brown Deer school district and Brown Deer Park and Recreation Department detailing everything from why this program benefits the community and the finances of the program to what the janitors need to do if there is rain to make sure the program can still run.

The school district is still looking into the feasibility of making a year-round program, but the summer program is set to run for a second year. Kerr said she hopes to have 100 kids enroll in the summer program this year. If they reach their goal, it is unlikely that the courts will be seen empty again.

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