A Message from our CEO

January 18, 2021

Dear Sportsmen’s Friends,

At this time last year, Sportsmen’s Juniors gathered nervously on court 5, dressed in black and white, and prepared to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s concept of Beloved Community. In years past, they’ve recited Dr. King’s iconic I Have A Dream speech, envisioned a dialogue between Dr. King and Arthur Ashe, and created and shared a pictorial biography of a life cut far too short.

Today we reflect on Dr. King in a different way, in separate spaces, but our reflections may never have been so crucial.

What would Dr. King say about 2020? How would he help us come to terms with the loss of life attributed to a worldwide pandemic, the need to prove that Black Lives Matter 57 years after I Have A Dream, and an insurrection in our nation’s capital, stoked by none other than the president of the United States?

For decades, Sportsmen’s has honored the memory of Dr. King by bringing our youth together with caring adults, on and off the courts, to help them understand that the most sincere way to honor Dr. King – his memory, life and work, his beliefs, values and teachings – is to continually develop their own characters so that they live every day seeking and building the society he described as Beloved Community.

Dr. King defined Beloved Community as a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one’s fellow human beings. The Beloved Community is a society with no discrimination, where everyone is embraced, and where all people can share in the wealth of the earth. Poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated. If you missed the Sportsmen’s Juniors sharing Dr. King’s concepts of Beloved Community at the conclusion of the 2020 Virtual Sportsmen’s Tennis Ball, you can watch it here.

So where do we go from here? I can’t begin to surmise how Dr. King would set out to once again methodically calm and yet stir up a nation, to see each other as equals and yet compel us to realize there is uniqueness in each of us that is the source of our strength as a community, as a country. Many of us are struggling daily with our own basic needs and can’t begin to fathom our own roles in building community.

I originally titled this note ‘ rebuilding’ beloved community, but I have to believe that any elements of beloved community that truly existed prior to this difficult year have survived. They may be obscured by the painful shadows of lost loved ones, or buried under the weight of injustice, but if we ever thought we saw a glimpse of beloved community in a kind act, a thoughtful gesture or a timey hug, we need only cling to that memory as our source of strength as we usher in this new year, with new promise and another chance to show Dr. King that we still hear his call. We thank you for continuing to be part of the Sportsmen’s community, surrounding and nourishing our youth as they take up his battle as their own.

Wishing you a thoughtful and encouraging Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, and safe and healthy 2021.

Sincerely,

Toni Wiley

Chief Executive Officer
Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center

Sportsmen’s CEO Toni Wiley and CarGuru’s People of Color Network

CarGuru’s People of Color Network interviews Sportsmen’s CEO Toni Wiley about the importance of Dr. King’s messaging in 2021.

May 28, 2020

Dear Sportsmen’s Friends,

Sometimes, it seems like there are no words.

As a parent and grandparent, as a Black woman, as someone who leads a youth-serving organization, this past week has been overwhelming. Most likely, we’ve all witnessed scenes that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. As difficult as it’s been for me to grasp, I keep wondering how it feels to people who are 30, 40 or 50 years younger than I am, trying to understand the images that cycle repeatedly on all forms of social media.

Of course, this hasn’t happened in isolation. The tragic death of George Floyd reminds us of too many recent and not-so-recent senseless deaths of Black and Brown men and women from all walks of life. And it comes as we are reeling from a pandemic that has had devastating human, financial and emotional consequences, felt most deeply in under-served, minority and low-income communities.

In January, Sportsmen’s held its annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative luncheon, and a dozen of our juniors shared with us Dr. King’s principals of beloved community. How the world has changed in just a few months. We couldn’t have known that by mid-January, half a world way, a virus had already erupted that would take the father of two of our young speakers.

One ray of hope that we can all hang onto is that part of the reason we are all affected by these events is because we are all connected. We share this universe, and Dr. King assured us that the universe is on the side of justice.

Since Sportsmen’s was founded nearly 60 years ago, we’ve invested in Boston’s most vulnerable youth and families. Not their tennis games, but their characters. We educate, mentor and embrace our youth; we stand alongside their parents, guardians and teachers to aid in their development as contributing members of society, to take their place in the universe, where they will personify love, peace and justice.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, not sure how to make a difference, and wondering where we go from here, I can only tell you that I hold onto the fact that we invest in peace, we invest in justice, by investing in our youth.

Wishing you peace and health,


Toni Wiley

Chief Executive Officer
Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center

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