Video by Photojournalist Katherine Tsakkos
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The city of Fort Wayne’s free Lifetime Sports Academy wrapped up Friday, and the 20th season was touted as one of the most successful.
More than 1,000 children participated in the 7-week academy, which offers free group lessons and skill development in golf, tennis and swimming to children ages 7-18. The Parks and Recreation Department provides certified coaching and trained professionals who direct the lessons.
They were tasked this year.
Some 2,300 golf lessons, 1,500 tennis lessons and 1,772 swim lessons were provided during the academy. Participants had the opportunity to earn new tennis rackets, golf clubs, and more, and more than 90 rackets and 30 sets of golf clubs were earned, officials said.
“Fort Wayne is a great place for young people to participate in positive activities and learn new skills,” said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “We’re fortunate to have the Lifetime Sports Academy in our community. The program is making a lasting and meaningful impact.”
Lifetime Sports Academy has welcomed a total of 26,950 participants over the last 20 years. Since it began in 1998, the academy has awarded more than 1,970 tennis rackets and close to 1,325 sets of golf clubs to participants who passed their skills tests.
More than that, though, the academy has offered the city’s youth a place to learn and grow.
“In 1996, Jerry Fox and Tom Jehl spearheaded an effort to instill a lifetime of sports to all youth in Fort Wayne through tennis, golf and swimming,” said Parks & Recreation Director Al Moll. “The Lifetime Sports Academy would be about having fun and learning skills that would be with them throughout their lives. These activities would be free, including all facilities, instruction and equipment/ It’s inspiring to see how far that idea has come. In 20 years, LSA has reached nearly 27,000 youth and even after 20 years, it remains a one of kind free experience.”