For the past 15 years, NTJL youth around the country have submitted applications to the Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. This year 11 year old Destiny Steward-Bowden, of Mount Vernon, NY and a participant at Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, was one of the winners. That got her a ticket to Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, where she saw acts including Ariana Grande, Justin Mahoney and Coco Jones perform live, in addition to seeing tennis pros Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams hit on center court. Perhaps even more special, while she watched she got to sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama. Additionally, on the following Monday she was a featured speaker at the USTA Serves Gala.
You can read her winning essay here: 10sBalls
AALC Founder & Chairman Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and the First Lady next to Steward-Bowden (far right), August 24th, 2013.
In her new book Come to Win Venus Williams asks 50 accomplished people to explain how playing sports served as a foundation for success in non-athletic pursuits. In the introduction Williams talks about her entrepreneurial efforts and how the lessons she learned from her incredibly successful tennis career translated into the business world. Williams started an interior design company, V Starr Interiors, in 2002 and debuted a clothing line in 2007. Along with her sister Serena she bought a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins in 2009. She talks about the need for athletes to diversify their interests and also how hard it can be for them to be taken seriously when branching out into new areas.
Williams talks to actors, politicians, television personalities, businesspeople, designers and doctors about how sports helped them on their path to success. Their perspectives are as diverse as their backgrounds and careers paths. However many of their stories touch on common themes. The first is how values usually associated with athletics are applicable to other pursuits. Preparation, determination, teamwork, tenacity, and a strong work ethic are all cited as keys to success in sports and elsewhere.
CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien talks about how the endurance she developed as a track and field athlete in middle school and high school helped her "hang in there" during difficult shoots covering hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Southeast Asia. Dr. Keith L. Black, the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, explains how he uses lessons from his time as a high school athlete to get a group of ten neurosurgeons, all with their own egos and goals, to pull together and work as a team. Denzel Washington describes how the humility, and work ethic he learned as a high school and college athlete have helped him stay grounded and successful in his acting career.
Venus Williams is a tennis legend and some of the book's subjects (Magic Johnson, Billie Jean King) are similarly accomplished athletes. But, interestingly, many of the people interviewed did not achieve professional athletic success. Often, their careers ended after high school or college and they had to give up their dreams of becoming professional athletes. Their examples are proof that athletic prowess is not the only path to success and in fact the most beneficial use of sports is often to see them as a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Many of the individuals profiled in Williams' book describe how their failure to become professional athletes motivated them to become successful in other areas. Arthur Ashe, despite his athletic success, always stressed the importance of education and making time for other pursuits besides sports. As Come to Win demonstrates, he was in good company.
Nick Cannon is a multitalented actor, musician, radio personality, TV host, executive producer and entrepreneur, and is currently hosting America's Got Talent, airing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on NBC. He is also the Chairman of TeenNick, a new television channel from Nickelodeon aimed at teen audiences. Nick will be appearing at the 2010 Arthur Ashe Kids' Day to present his new group, the School Gyrls. We caught up with Nick to talk about Kids' Day, role models and some of the projects he is involved with:
Is this your first Arthur Ashe Kids' Day? What are you most looking forward to? Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone enjoying themselves and spending time with the young kids.
Speaking of kids, Arthur Ashe stressed the importance of role models and creating a positive legacy for young people to follow. Who were your role models growing up? Aside from Arthur Ashe himself, I really admire Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, and Bill Cosby. I hope that my work with TeenNick and with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Brignoni Foundation for Pregnant Teens and The Brightest Star can help inspire and empower young people in the same way.
Do you follow tennis? Who is your favorite tennis player? Yes, my favorite player is Serena Williams.
As a host, producer and entrepreneur you're involved with a number of projects including TV shows, music and films. What made you decide to expand beyond a performance-centered career to a more entrepreneurial career? I wanted to be involved in the corporate executive world and since I have such a long history with Nickelodeon, I knew it would be a perfect place to reach out to the youth and empower young people at the same time.
You started your career when you were pretty young. Now that you're managing other young artists, like the School Gyrls, do you give them advice to help them succeed and handle the pressures? Yes, I teach them to keep their eyes on the prize. Always stay focused and not get sidetracked. I constantly tell them that "pressure builds character" and "hurdles were made to jump." No matter what, keep going while giving nothing less than your best.
Be sure to catch Nick and other guests at Arthur Ashe Kids' Day airing on CBS Sunday, August 29th at 12 pm EST.
For the 17th consecutive year Arthur Ashe Kids' Day will start off the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY. The 2010 Kids' Day festivities will be hosted by Quddus and Adrienne Bailon and will include the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, and David Archuleta along with Allstar Weekend, Alexis Jordan and School Gyrls, and appearances by Nick Cannon, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic and Kim Clijsters and many others. Proceeds from the event go toward the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network, which was originally cofounded by Ashe in 1969.
• In 1993, the first AAKD was called "Arthur Ashe AIDS Tennis Challenge" and included Bill Cosby, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, and John McEnroe, among others
• Over the years, participating AAKD comedians and entertainers have included Alec Baldwin, Chevy Chase, Chris Kattan, Keenan & Kel, Alan King, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Rosie O'Donnell
• In 2005 the United States Postal Service revealed the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Postal Stamp at Kids' Day
• Popular singers to have performed at AAKD in the past include: Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Bow Wow, Ne-Yo, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Sean Kingston
• Trained dogs were scheduled to jump over the center court net in 1999, but were canceled because their long nails scratched the court surface during rehearsal
Find out more about AAKD: http://www.usopen.org/kids/ArthurAsheKidsDay/. Be sure to catch Arthur Ashe Kids' Day airing on CBS Sunday, August 29th at 12 pm EST.
With the U.S. Open and Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, August is an exciting and busy month for all of us at ArthurAshe.org. This year marks the 42nd anniversary of Arthur's 1968 championship at the first US Open. As part of our August feature, we are fortunate to have a personal account of that victory written by sports writer Steve Flink. Arthur's victory in that tournament was the catalyst for him co-founding National Junior Tennis League (now National Junior Tennis and Learning network). Today, the NJTL benefits more than 200,000 kids through its programs around the country.
This year also marks the 17th anniversary of Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. Since the inaugural Kids' Day, in 17 years it has never been rained out! It's wonderful to start this country's biggest tennis event with a celebration that is geared entirely toward children and families.
For me, the importance of Kids' Day is how it helps youth better understand Arthur as a human being: an athlete, an activist and a father. One of the most enjoyable events of the day is joining Mayor David Dinkins in honoring the winners of the NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. It is always great to meet them, see their excitement and read their thoughtful comments about the life and legacy of Arthur. Aside from the 25,000 kids expected to attend this years Kids' Day, the event will also benefit kids nationwide as proceeds from Kids' Day go toward NJTL programs.
You can learn more about Arthur Ashe Kids' Days by reading our article as well as our Q&A with Nick Cannon, who will make a guest appearance at this year's event. This month we also take a look at Venus Williams' new book, Come to Win and cover the upcoming Singapore Youth Olympic Games. We hope you enjoy our August features.
Be sure to catch Arthur Ashe Kids' Day airing on CBS Sunday, August 29th at 12 pm EST.
Founder & Chairman
Arthur Ashe Learning Center
Arthur Ashe Learning Center
Inspired by Arthur Ashe’s proactive life as a conscious leader, humanitarian, educator and athlete, the Arthur Ashe Learning Center promotes his legacy to educate and motivate —with an emphasis toward inspiring youth. By vividly focusing upon the areas of education, health and wellness, citizenship and self-reliance, the AALC fosters empowerment and leadership in the individual and the community, elevating