Developing Athletes Into Leaders
● By Emily Miranda
By Emily J. Miranda
THE ASCENSION PROJECT, Inc. is a nonprofit organization centered on leadership development through the sport of tennis. The program is the brainchild of Sun Oaks Tennis and Fitness owner Jeremiah Walsh. His vision is to improve the community and influence the world by guiding and teaching young athletes to thrive in a team culture. They are placed into an environment similar to a high-level college tennis program. The project focuses on cultivating such values as goal setting, accountability, gratitude, commitment, work ethic and trust in toil. Ascension hopes that by integrating such values into a sports-based environment, athletes are not simply developing physical strength and endurance, but are compelled to practice said values. The Ascension Project hopes to prepare and develop young men and women into successful leaders.
Currently the program serves 15-18 students, all of whom sign a commitment contract to keep them accountable. The Ascension motto, “Strength Through Struggle,” envelops the essence of staying committed to a goal despite difficulties. The athletes compete in 12-15 tournaments a year, along with participating in strength and conditioning programs, leadership development courses, nutritional guidance, mentoring, community service and academic support. Students must maintain a 3.0 minimum grade-point average to participate on the team, which plays a key factor in the program’s 100 percent college acceptance rate for its players. Also, more than $1 million in scholarships have been awarded to Ascension Project students.
In a single-player sport such as tennis, Ascension strives to provide its athletes with an unmatched sense of camaraderie on and off the court. Other benefits are lower travel costs for tournaments, and coaching and team support for tournaments hosted locally and outside the area.
The Ascension Project holds the goal of expanding its leadership and athletic training to include more sports in the future. •
The Ascension Project, Inc. • www.ascensionproject.com