Kay McDaniel Tennis Camp Serves the Soul

Kay McDaniel is a story of fighting against the odds of serving her community and love of God. This year her free tennis camp to around 400 campers was the 25th. kay in the blue is shown doing what she loves.(Photo:GaryBolden/RheaReview)

Rhea County serves at the free tennis camp for 400 kids teaches kids about tennis and God  Signups now underway for 2017 until June 30th,

June 23, 2016

Cleveland, TN —  Kay McDaniel conducted her 25th annual free tennis camp at Lee University recently and the camp reached out to children with fundamentals of tennis and Christianity.  Kay began this camp back in 1991 with one instructor(herself) and 25 campers.  Over the years, the camp has grown to almost 400 campers and 45 instructors this year.  Kay is now assistant Professor of Human Performance at Lee University,  She was previously the Tennis Coach at Lee.  Several Eagle and Lady Eagle tennis players and coach Andrews helped.

The camp fills up every year, as right after the camp about 200 campers are signed up.  The sign ups are open again in April and fills up quickly.  There is normally slightly more girls than boys who sign up.

If you want to secure your daughter(s) and/or son(s) in the 2017 clinics, please come to Kay McDaniel’s Tennis Clinic site and register him/her.

Registration will be open from June 11-June 30, and will reopen again on April 1, 2017.
(But there’s no guarantee your child will be accepted at that point since we fill up so quickly).

There were several stations setup around the Lee University Tennis court area.  The action is fast and furious as campers move from court to court to engage in different activities.  Most activities really work on fundamentals, but there are also lots of fun games to keep the campers interest.  Every day, there is an opportunity after the teaching of tennis to sit down with the kids and do devotions.

On Tuesday, Kay takes time to share her story, which is an interesting one.  Kay began playing tennis at the age of 11 with a racket purchased with green stamps in Shreveport, Lousiana.  Now for you younger ones out there, there was a grocery store that gave out green stamps with purchase of food.  You would save those up and put in books and turn in for gifts and apparently one of those was a tennis racket. She played against in an era where Martina Navratilova, Chris Everett, Billie Jean King,  and Steffi Graf were the top players.  She played at several grand slams and was ranked as high as # 30 in singles and # 20 in doubles, but after retiring from tennis she took up her other passion she had as a youngster.

She wanted to serve not just tennis ball but others.  Six months before retiring she had a spiritual experience and headed on a new direction that would eventually lead to Lee University and 25 years of conducting free tennis camps.  She focused her desire to serve to a desire to serve God.

She was diagnosed with two incurable diseases shortly after retiring from Tennis.  With Lupus and Addison’s to battle, Kay with the strength of her faith has battled through the years.  There was a time when she was told not to be out on the court because of her health and that really frustrated Kay as she is such a hands on person.  Recently she received a healing from the Lord and was happily rotating from court to court talking to campers, instructors and campers.

Video summary of camp with interviews.

Kay said, I had to overcome a lot of illnesses through the years.  They first told me I could not be in the sun at all and that frustrated me, cause I could out there with the campers.”

“A few years ago, the Lord healed me.  About 5 years ago, He(Lord) touched my life and I am not having any trouble out her at all.”

Lil Andrews and Rhea County Tennis staples at Kay McDaniel camp

The camp has a Rhea County connection.  For the past 15 years, Lil Andrews has been involved as a lead instructor and she has over the years brought many of her tennis players and former players over to be instructors. This year there was a hug contingent of players and former players.  K.J.  Vincent, Josh Calbaugh, Chase Eisenmentger, Kyle Shaver,  Lexi Bowman, Gabi Moore, Brandon Newell and Gina Reed.

Rhea County Tennis Coach Lil Andrews said, “I have found that in the 15 yrs as a head instructor, I’ve been able to involve our Rhea County tennis team members in giving back to the sport and learning to lead and care for the younger kids who look up to them.”

“Each year I see growth and maturity in them as the week goes on. Its also a good bonding experience for our team kids as we travel back and forth together and cope with getting up early and physically spending ourselves each day for a worthy cause.”

“Of course, those are all incidental benefits that the instructors receive, but the real mission is what we can do for the campers–not only with tennis instruction but also building relationships and with spiritual input. No two days are alike, and we find ourselves digging deep for resources from within to help each camper. There nothing like the reward that comes from investing in others and knowing you’ve made a difference. Its a win-win for both instructor and camper.”

Gina Reed a former Lady Eagle tennis player, has been an instructor for 8 years.  She played tennis for Lil in High School.

Gina said, “My favorite thing about the camp is the ministry.”

“At the younger age, you really want to stress the fundamentals of tennis.”




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