By Joshua Maloni
The Village of Lewiston and Gary Hall have reteamed for another year of indoor tennis at the WTS court on North Second and Mohawk streets. Lessons are provided to participants ages 5-13, regardless of their residency.
Recreation Department Director Brendan McDermott said around 30 youth (spread between two age groups) are currently participating in the program.
“It’s a great partnership between a municipality and a private business in our community,” he said.
Hall opened up his court to youngsters last year, saying at the time, “As a kid growing up, I know how I felt at the end of a school day. I couldn’t wait to get out and run and play sports, and just be active. Play tag – whatever it was – you know, just to get out and get some exercise. I just felt like being in the classroom all day, you’ve got all this stored-up energy and you’re just raring to go. That’s how I am – I still am. I play tennis here every day.
“I just think it’s very healthy for the kids to come out and get some exercise.”
McDermott explained, “Once a week, the kids come in for one-hour sessions for two months, and then we take a month off. And then the following two months we do that same cycle.”
He explained, “It’s been working out great for us, in terms of making sure that we get new kids brought into the program. Kids are still continuing on with the program, as well, but that break gives us a little bit of time to get some fresh faces in here, as well.”
He again credited Hall for enabling the Recreation Department to offer something new for children and teens.
“It’s been wonderful. It’s been a great partnership. Gary Hall couldn’t be a more gracious host,” McDermott said. “What we’ve been doing is, when we originally started, we were thinking this was going to be an eight-week session, and then next January we’d start up again. And then it turned out we’re going every two months, essentially, with one-month breaks. At first, we were thinking we were just going to do this once a year, and this has turned into something where we’re doing it year-round now, right through the summer.
“And surprisingly, I was taken aback by how many kids actually register in summer – because I figure everyone wants to be outdoors. But it’s climate-controlled in here; it’s nice in the summertime; and we had a great turnout in the summer, as well.”
Plus, it’s an “absolutely beautiful court,” he said. “And we actually just started our soccer program last Sunday, and we’ve had a great turnout. Just under 100 participants for that, as well.”
For the almost three-dozen players, tennis has taken the place of social media – if only for a few hours each week.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the feedback, from not only the kids, but the parents, as well,” McDermott said. “They thank me each week, and make sure to let Gary know, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing this opportunity for the kids.’ ”
Those interested in participating can still do so.
“Absolutely,” McDermott said. “In fact, I had somebody register earlier today. So, we take registrations right on through. Participation is the most important piece to it for us, so we’ll have people come in, right into our fourth, fifth session – halfway through – and that’s no problem, because oftentimes those kids then will come to the next session right from the get-go.”
Program registration takes place online at https://villageoflewiston.net/recreation-department. Parents can contact the Recreation Department with any questions at 716-754-1990 or [email protected]. Additional information and contacts can be found on the Recreation Department’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
At the recent Village of Lewiston Board meeting, Mayor Anne Welch said, “WTS, I know that’s great for the kids to be able to go over there and play. My grandson takes soccer over there. The kids love it. There’s a lot of people that do it. I just want to say ‘Thank you’ for that, and also thanks to Gary Hall, because, without him, we couldn’t even do it. He’s very generous to let us use that facility.”
Trustee Claudia Marasco said McDermott and Hall make “a great team.”
Also at the board meeting, McDermott said, “All recreation staff have recently gone through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heads-up concussion training. I felt that it was important training for our staff to have. Even though we really don’t have any contact sports in our programming, accidents happen.”
He added, “They know how to see when somebody’s been dinged, and then also protocol with regards to providing support to those young patrons. Also, as part of our protocol, we contact the parents, if they’re under the age of 18, with regards to any injuries that go along with that.”
CPR and first aid materials can be found throughout the Red Brick gym corridor.
Welch said, “You do have a great recreation staff, and you have great programs down there, but the safety of everybody that is involved in your programs, that’s great that they have that knowledge.”