“George Taliaferro’s Amazing Life”
Indianapolis Star sports editor Gregg Doyel recently interviewed George Taliaferro about his “amazing life” as the first African-American to play football in the NFL and other amazing pinnacles in his life.
- READ THE Indy Star ARTICLE!
Taliaferro Reunites with Friend on the “Today” Show
George Taliaferro, the first black man drafted into the NFL and the athlete for one of our Champion Citizen books, appeared on the “Today” show on January 30, 2015. To learn more about Champion Citizen: George Taliaferro, click elementaryreads.org
In the early 1940’s George played football at the all black Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana. He played against Carl Beisecker, a player on the all-white Horace Mann High School. Carl shook George’s hand and congratulated him on his outstanding play. George went to Indiana University and then was drafted. After the WWII he returned to IU to finish his degree. Carl Beisecker was now on the IU football team. George and Carl had not seen each other since 1951.
Carl suffered a stroke about a year ago and his one last wish was to see George. On January 24-27 George and his wife Viola flew to Phoenix and then drove to Carl’s home in Peoria, AZ. The reunion was sponsored by a nonprofit organization that grants Make-a-Wish to senior citizens. George said it was one of the most moving and exciting experiences of his life.
2015 Marian University A-Team
A multi-disciplinarian entrepreneurial program that partners Marian students with local companies and nonprofits work on real projects.
These six students are partnering with Hamilton County Community Tennis Association/HCCTA to create a marketing and development plan for the Champion Citizen books created by HCCTA through its Elementary Reads program. The books are biographies about athletes who have endured challenges and made the world better for others: Arthur Ashe, James Blake, Billie Jean King, Gale Sayers, George Taliaferro. 25,000 books have been given to children since 2011. Local high school students researched and wrote the original drafts.
Molly Fletchall and Grace Marchese are writing the new Jean Driscoll book – first athlete to win the Boston Marathon eight times, and each time in a wheel chair. Evan Parschall and Laura Moore are writing the Sam McNew book – a Hamilton County Special Olympics gold medalist.
HCCTA instructors and volunteers were honored at the Central Indiana Tennis Association/CITA annual meeting and awards luncheon on November 15, 2014.
Molly Fletchall, HCCTA instructor and founder of the Special Olympics of Hamilton County tennis program, received the Barbara S. Wynne Award. The award is the highest honor CITA gives to junior girls. It is given for outstanding tennis achievement, sportsmanship, academic success and community service. Molly has played varsity tennis for Carmel High School for four years and helped the team achieve two consecutive team state championships (2013 and 2014). She and her tennis partner Emma Love are also the 2014 state girls doubles championship.
Sue Harris, an HCCTA board member for more than 20 years, and her family, were named the CITA Family of the Year. While a member of the HCCTA board Sue served as treasurer, awards luncheon chair, taught HCCTA Schools Tennis at Adams Elementary (Sheridan), and college scholarship chair. She and granddaughter Emily Winter wrote Champion Citizen: Arthur Ashe, one of the five biographies HCCTA published in 2011 for elementary students. Sue was also CITA League coordinator for five years. Her husband Kent Harris was always at Sue’s side assisting her with all her tennis activities. Her daughter Susan Winter is an active tennis player, taught tennis in Zionsville elementary schools, volunteered for the USTA Clay Court Championships and is on the USTA Midwest Adaptive Tennis Committee. Sue’s son-in-law, David Winter, is a competitive USTA League tennis player and has served on the CITA board since 1997.
Ryan Polito, HCCTA new president, was welcomed to the CITA annual meeting by Lisa Mortier, newly elected CITA secretary, and Linda Goad, newly elected CITA president.
Fletchall to Play at Ball State
Molly Fletchall, HCCTA instructor and founder of HCCTA Special Olympics of Hamilton County tennis, signed a letter of intent to play tennis for Ball State University. Molly played varsity four years at Carmel High School and led the team to two consecutive state titles in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 she and partner Emma Love won the IHSAA state girls doubles title. Molly’s parents, Jill and Dr. Tim Fletchall, serve on the HCCTA board of directors.
Backpacks Donated to HCCTA
HCCTA thanks the Hawthorns Golf & Country Club tennis players for generously donating backpacks, lunch boxes and writing paper to the HCCTA Schools Tennis program. Nearly 640 children played in the HCCTA Tennis program in 2013. Approximately, ten children received scholarships. In the spring of 2014, 408 children have already played. Students who are on a free or reduced fee lunch program play free, and these backpacks will be given to them.
Taliaferro Speaks at the Children’s Museum
George Taliaferro (first black man drafted into the NFL) and his wife Judge Viola Taliaferro spoke June 18, 2014 with the children attending the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis summer camp.
Taliaferro Talks to Inmates
On November 22, George Taliaferro, the first black man drafted into the NFL, and his wife Viola, retired family/child and juvenile judge, spoke with some of the inmates at Jail II. For two hours the Taliaferros inspired and entertained the men. George Taliaferro: “Champion Citizen is one of the five Champion Citizen books the men had been reading in the fall of 2013.” Indy Reads, the non-profit devoted to improving adult literacy in Central Indiana, will continue using HCCTA’s five Champion Citizen books in its Criminal Justice Program during the spring of 2014. Indy Read’s volunteer Jean Deeds is instructing the program. She was assisted in the fall by Jay Trolson.
Tennis Magazine Features HCCTA Program
HCCTA’s Special Olympics of Hamilton County tennis program was one of the features in the November/December 2013 issue of USTA’s Tennis Magazine (the Hero’s Issue). This program was the only adaptive tennis program listed in the state of Indiana, and one of only nine in the entire USTA Midwest section.
CITA Honors HCCTA Volunteers
Barbara S. Wynne Junior Sportsmanship Award
Given to the outstanding junior female player who best exhibits a high degree of sportsmanship, playing ability, and excellent mental attitude, and who works to promote the game of tennis.
Bailey is a senior at Carmel High School and has played #1 varsity singles every year. She helped her team win two state championships and another year led them to the state team finals; she was an individual state runner-up, 1 year; first team all-state singles, 3 years; Marion-Wood Cup team, she has been #1 CITA player and highly ranked in Midwest.
Bailey’s off court achievements are just as impressive: four years Athletic Student Advisory Board, Principal’s Advisory Committee, Student Senator, National Honor Society, heavy AP course load, Scholar Athlete, and EntouRAJ for Kids volunteer including wiping mud off the bleachers and mopping melted snow of the CRC indoor courts.
Bailey’s parents are Bill and Libby Padgett.
Tennis Family of the Year
Given to the family who best exemplifies the high ideals of the Central Indiana Tennis Association, with each member of the family contributing to the sport of tennis and to CITA.
The Special Olympics of Hamilton County Tennis program was created in 2013 by the Fletchall family. Main organizer was daughter Molly who plays varsity double for Carmel High School. Because of this family 25 special needs athletes played tennis this past summer every other Saturday evening from June-September at the Todd Witsken Tennis Center. The program is free and the only registered USTA Adaptive Tennis program in Indiana and one of nine in the USTA Midwest Section.
CITA stands for USTA Midwest Central Indiana. Click here for more information about CITA.
HCCTA Supports Special Olympics
Twenty-five Special Olympics of Hamilton County athletes spent their summer Saturdays playing tennis at the Todd Witsken Tennis Center at Carmel High School. The athletes were learning conditioning, basic strokes, and team camaraderie.
Molly Fletchall, a Carmel High School junior, created the program. Each week there were enough middle school and high school volunteers so each athlete had a buddy. Nick Hennessey assisted Molly with leading the activities.
Thank you to these organizations for their support of the program: Special Olympics of Hamilton County, Hamilton County Community Tennis Association/HCCTA, Carmel Racquet Club (members donated used tennis racquets), Central Indiana Tennis Association, and USTA Midwest.
Thank you volunteers! Amy Brentlinger, Mike Bostic, Kailey Eaton, Jill Fletchall, Ryan Fletchall, Tim Fletchall, Molly Fletchall, Patrick Fletchall, Ellie Harrington, Reiley Harrington, Nick Hennessey, Zach Hennessey, Michael Li, Jessica Lorenz, Grace Marchese, Lauryn Padgett, Helen Petersen, Barb Purvis, Julie Richardson, John Sullivan, Adrian Thomas, Gina Vuotto, Zoe Woods.
The Special Olympics of Hamilton County Tennis program was the only Adaptive Tennis program in Indiana registered in 2013 with the USTA and only one of seven in the entire USTA Midwest Section, the second largest USTA section.
Highlights from Special Olympics Tennis
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Westfield Mayor Kicks-Off Champion Citizen Reading Program
Westfield Mayor Andy Cook and published author and Westfield High School English teacher Dawn Knight helped kick-off the first session of the Champion Citizen Reading Program associated with the Westfield Youth Team Tennis summer league (10-and under players). The first book read was Champion Citizen: George Taliaferro which Knight helped author.
Westfield Youth Team Tennis
HCCTA instructors helped evaluate 120 12-and-under players June 22 at the Westfield Youth Team Tennis Evaluation Day held at Westfield High School tennis courts. HCCTA Tennis Director Maggie Petersen conducted a coaches training for the parents volunteering to help coach for this six weeks program. In addition to tennis instruction, the players received tennis racquets, cinch bags, a USTA membership and other tennis equipment. Spearheading this inaugural program is Westfield resident April Eichenberg.
HCCTA Presented Tennis Demonstration in Fishers
HCCTA presented a tennis demonstration to Fishers Parks and Recreation Sports of All Sorts day camp on June 11. Thirty-six 10-and under youth learned the basics of forehands and backhands.
Fishers Youth Team Tennis Serves Up Their Inaugural Season
HCCTA has partnered with S.P.O.R.T.S. to create Fishers Youth Team Tennis, a 10-and under beginner league for students in Hamilton Southeastern schools. More than 100 students participated in the March 16 Fishers Youth Team Tennis Player Evaluation and USTA Play Day. The season is Saturdays April 13-May 18 in the Hoosier Road Elementary gym. All equipment and activities are based on the USTA Quick Start tennis, modified to best fit the physical development of young players. Players receive a USTA membership, a Kids Club goody bag, racquet and tee shirt.
The 14 teams are being coached by volunteer parents and high school tennis players. Coordinating the matches is Maggie Petersen email@example.com.
Special thanks to volunteers who helped with the March 16 Fishers Youth Team Tennis Player Evaluation and USTA Play Day: Sheila Day, Cameron Currie, Andrew Gretencord, Kimberly Hartzell, Tanner Hayes, Jennifer Moe, Maggie Petersen, Helen Petersen, Jenny Reifeis, Steve Schneider.
*Click on any thumbnail below to view the slideshow.
HCCTA’s Elementary Reads Donates Books
HCCTA through its reading program Elementary Reads donated 50 copies of Champion Citizen: Billie Jean King to the December 10, 2012 Billie Jean King lecture presented by the Women’s Fund of Indianapolis.
Helen Petersen Selected to Speak at USTA CTD Workshop
Helen Moser Petersen, founder/director of HCCTA, was recently invited to speak during the 2013 USTA/Midwest Section Community Tennis Development Workshop. Helen shared her Secrets to Recruiting, Training and Retaining Volunteers in one session and provided some CTA Best Practices during another class.
The event was held January 11-13 at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing and at the Five Seasons Family Sports Club.
(Pictured Below): Nancy, Helen and Kimberly take time between sessions to discuss 2013 tennis activities in Central Indiana.
Scalettas Win Charity Tickets to the US Open
Phil and Lynn Scaletta of Indianapolis enjoyed watching the US Open tennis tournament in the USTA’s President’s Box this year. The Scalettas won the tickets from HCCTA by becoming the first bidders for the charity tickets. The Scaletta’s were awed by the tennis, the gourmet dining and the red carpet treatment at the tournament. Lynn has been a long time USTA League tennis player and has competed at Nationals. In fact she had to miss her team’s last match at Midwest Sectionals to make her flight to New York.
HCCTA was given two tickets to the USTA President’s Box by USTA Midwest Section to use as a benefit to HCCTA. HCCTA offered the tickets for $1,000 to the first bidder. Tickets to the President’s Box are by invitation only. USTA President Jon Vegosen graciously donated invitations to various community tennis associations around the country.
Champion Citizens Authors Awarded
Indianapolis Junior Tennis Development honored the HCCTA Champion Citizen authors at its annual Connie Held Spirit Awards Dinner on May 6, 2012, at the Barbara S. Wynne Tennis Center at North Central High School.
Wellness Extravaganza Was a Success!
Maggie Petersen, HCCTA Tennis Director, and Helen Moser Petersen, HCCTA Founder/Director, ran a tennis demonstration at the April 19 Wellness Extravaganza at Noblesville High School. Numerous elementary students and their parents tried their hand at Quick Start Tennis and gathered information about HCCTA summer tennis programs.
Petersen Recognized by Former New York City Mayor
Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins congratulated his long-time tennis friend Helen Moser Petersen for being a 25 year volunteer with the United States Tennis Association/USTA. Petersen was recognized at the USTA annual meeting at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. The awards luncheon was hosted by international sports announcer Ted Robinson. Special guest was Rod Laver in commemoration of Laver’s 50th anniversary of this second Grand Slam win.
2012 Torchbearer Award
Helen Petersen and Dawn Knight nominated Judge Taliaferro for the Torchbearer award which is given by the Indiana Women’s Commission to honor outstanding women in Indiana. Judge Taliaferro has assisted HCCTA with its Champion Citizen book project and is married to George Taliaferro, the first black man drafted into the NFL and the subject of one of the Champion Citizen books.
HCCTA Gives a Special Holiday Gift
Brad Humphrey, a former tennis player for Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, was paralyzed last August when the stage collapsed during a concert he attended at the Indiana State Fair. In the months following the tragedy, Brad has displayed amazing strength and courage and has been an inspiration to many in the Indianapolis community.
He’s already learning to play wheelchair tennis, and the Hamilton County Tennis Association wanted to recognize him for being a champion athlete and citizen. HCCTA donated $500 to Humphrey and his family to help cover his medical expenses. With the help of Carmel-based pro Rajeev Ram and former HCCTA board member Colin Atkinson, the organization also gave Humphrey, who plays the violin in his school orchestra, a one-of-a-kind holiday gift: a violin autographed by Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band.