Sportime Kings Park- Jason Wass
Jason Wass is the Director of Tennis ay Sportime Kings Park, in New York. He is an avid tennis player and very passionate about his kids program at Sportime.
Can you tell us how you got into tennis and the kids program that you run?
My parents started playing tennis and I followed their footsteps around the age of 6. I played as a Junior and I started teaching in a Grass Roots program at 13 and fell in love with the sport. I love teaching and that lead me to Sportime. I started working there during high school in my free time (nights, weekends, summer) and have been there pretty much ever since (with a break for college and obligatory first job). I’ve had great opportunities and mentors along the way.
Explain a little about your facility, number of coaches and players in your program.
We have 11-courts, hard and clay courts, full service fitness, multi-sport courts, pool, all-inclusive club (rare for the area). We have 10-Full Time coaches, 400 players in program, of which 200 are in 10U, so it’s a big part of what we do.
What are the core goals of your program?
GROWTH. Grow not only as tennis player, but as a person as a whole. Sportsmanship, education, and responsibility/accountability are the core areas in their program that contribute to each player’s growth. Of course we want to develop good players too but more than that we want parents to see the whole benefit of their child being in our program.
What activities does a child get when they sign up to your program?
We offer weekly lessons, free court time, monthly clinics, and a great competition structure that includes our World Tour, a special series called Warrior Games and USTA Junior Team Tennis. We also have monthly special events (holiday parties, camp dates during the year, etc.). Behind all these activities we run a reward system called sport time points where we allocate tickets that kids can use to purchase prizes.
How would a child describe their time in your program?
I’d hope’s they’d say “Fun.” If that’s the answer, that means they are interested and want to stick with it. FUN has multiple definitions- could refer to the games for some kids, could refer to improving their tennis skills for others!
What do you consider to be unique about your program?
Our competitive structures have been a big difference (ex. World Tour). The player/parent experience is really unique and we believe, a needed change in tennis. It’s a no pressure, fun, upbeat place but we respect the kids who are treated like little pros and opportunity to act that way. Parents relationships are a big priority and we keep them up to date and the communication channels open. This helps them to relax, and creates great environment for all involved.
Where were the major challenges and evolutions in your program in the last two years?
We completely redesigned our program in the last 2 years. The whole thing was a major challenge. Getting everything in a structure that everyone could follow. Mike Barrell wrote curriculum and train the staff, there are 120-150 pros in the company so this was a challenge. It has taken time to get pros to understand, along with the parents, so overall, getting everyone on the same page has meant a big shift in thinking. We are finally over the hump and starting to see areas of program pushed through and take some shape.
What are the major developments that you are planning or focused on in the next 12 months?
We are continuing to push through the process. We want to concentrate on parent education, so they are in the loop and understanding of what’s going on with the tennis program. The competition structure keeps growing and developing within the company and that is really exciting. Behind all developments we have to stay focused on consolidating all we have achieved in the last 2 years.
What do you think will be the next big thing in kids tennis in the next few years?
I think the next big thing in kids tennis is going to be marrying the beyond-court environment to the technology surrounding the kids today. It’s coming but isn’t out there yet. We want to digitally stay in touch with them. Through technology, allowing them the ability to “check in”, create their own avatar (which evolves as their skills do), view schedules, see “how they’re doing”. We want to keep them excited and engaged about tennis off the court too and make it a bigger part of their daily life! That’s the fun part of working with evolve9, they are making this a reality through the new evolution program.
Check out the Sportime World Tour Webpage. One of the most innovative Series of Club events in the tennis industry. Jason has been instrumental in the delivery of this program and will share his experiences at the evolution Junior Directors Conference.
Jason is the Director of Tennis for Sportime Kings Park and also a Regional Director for U10 Tennis for Sportime Clubs located throughout New York state. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has 15+ years of experience as a Director. Jason is a USPTA Elite Tennis Professional with certifications in Ten and Under Tennis (TAUT) and the USTA High Performance Coaching Program.
At Sportime, he has instigated one of the most dynamic and success internal U10 Competitive Circuits with over 200 children compete at each event. The Sportime World Tour has quickly become one of the models for all clubs to aspire to. Jason lives in Massapequa, NY with his wife Julie and son, Daniel
He also has an odd fascination for wearing socks and sandals, together! We forgive him!!
Jason will be presenting “How to get your club competition program right! The Tipping point for retention and development!” at the evolution Junior Directors Conference