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Ready, Set, Serve

October 30, 2015 10:15 AM

Ready Set Serve.


Baseball fans will miss Yogi Berra who recently passed away at the age of 90.  But, his colloquial expressions that at first glance appear meaningless, will last for decades.  Maybe the all time favorite Yogi-ism is, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  Causes one to stop and ponder, right?


Norm Sommerfeld, Alpena’s APLEX manager came to a “fork in the road” in 2005 and decided to “take it” by creating five very unique elementary school activity based programs for our children in Alpena county.  Each program is intentionally designed to match the age appropriate skills of children in first through fourth grades.  The programs are offered once a week, for an hour, over a two-month period.  Children participating in these programs are bused to either the APLEX, Art in the Loft or the High School pool depending on the program.  The programs are staggered and follow the school calendar year - September through May.  The first graders enjoy a program called “ready set flip and skate”, which consists of an hour-long session in basic gymnastics alternating with practice time on the ice rink.  Second graders hit the pool for an hour each week and are able to swim by the end of the school year, thanks to “ready set swim”.  Third graders are hitting forehands and passable backhands in the “ready set serve” session.  Fourth graders are encouraged to intentionally color outside of the lines in another program called “ready set create”.  Between 1,400 and 1,600 first through fourth graders attend one of the “ready set” programs annually.


But to really understand the magic of these programs at the APLEX - pick one for example, the “ready set serve” program – let us explore just what really happens when you have ten to thirty-five third graders attending a Tuesday afternoon tennis session. While it would be easy to mention the benefits of the physical activity involved in playing tennis for this age group, even more worthwhile would be the mingling of diverse academic backgrounds, since those attending “ready set serve” come from not only our public schools, but the home schooled and parochial schools as well.  Also attending are those individuals from schools that embrace our special needs children. That means our third graders have the opportunity to make new friends from all participating schools across the county.  That is a good thing.  Like all the other “ready set” programs, the tennis program is providing a weekly opportunity, over a two-month period of time, to learn a new life skill at a very early age.  How valuable is that?


Maybe someday, one of our “ready set serve” super stars will be able to explain to me the meaning of another Yogi comment, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical”.  Say what?



With Regards,

Alpena Joe