As the US Open begins this week on Arthur Ashe Court, it’s only fitting that Legacy Youth Tennis and Education will be inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2012.
The East Falls-based Legacy, formerly known as Arthur Ashe Tennis and Education, has received the Hall’s Lifetime Commitment Award in recognition of 60 years of service to communities all across the Philadelphia area.
“It is a very powerful affirmation of the duration and impact of our work in Philadelphia for seven decades,” said Kenny Holdsman, president of the organization. “We have been empowering young people, primarily those from lower-income families, to achieve their potential as individuals and as active, responsible citizens.”
Legacy Youth Tennis and Education was founded in 1952 as the Philadelphia Tennis Patrons Association by William J. Clothier, and practices the dreams of the great Ashe, using tennis as a vessel to enact positive change in its players. Despite the name change, Legacy honors its motto, “Inspired by the life of Arthur Ashe.”
“His values and his own legacy are very much an inspiration and an aspiration for our organization,” said Holdsman. “For us, every day, whether we’re on playgrounds serving kids or receiving a great award like at the Hall of Fame, it’s an opportunity for us to educate the community.”
While Legacy’s headquarters is on Ridge Avenue, the program and its goals are mobile, reaching as many as 4,500 children a year wherever tennis is played.
Holdsman said, “Our organization is bigger than the center. For two-thirds of the kids that we serve, we do so in schools and playgrounds throughout the city and in Camden.”
Legacy boasts countless success stories, many of whom so fully believe in tennis’ ability to mold a person that they now work for the organization. Greg Williams, Director of Neighborhood-Based Programming, and Jon Bryant, Co-Director of Player Development, transformed both the life and tennis skills honed over years as Legacy student-athletes into college scholarships, and have chosen to give back to the community that served them so greatly.
Along with Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, 2012 inductees are Philadelphia 76ers Wali Jones and Doug Collins (also the team’s current head coach), St. Joseph’s University basketball dynamo Debbie Black, former Eagles Tommy Thompson and Maxie Baughan, Temple University alum and four-time NFL Pro Bowler Joe Klecko, local baseball stars Gertrude Dunn, Eddie Plank, Johnny Callison and Mike Piazza, Philadelphia Flyers MVP Eric Lindros, golfer Johnny McDermott, 1952 Olympic steeplechase gold medal winner Horace Aschenfelt, boxer Harold Johnson and Dan Baker, longtime Phillies PA announcer and former Big 5 executive director.
The Hall’s ninth annual enshrinement ceremony will be held on November 8 at the Sheraton Society Hill.