Fuyei Xaykaothao began volunteering with our Middle School program, TopSpin, in January of this year–and he’s been a regular fixture of the program ever since! We appreciate the time he’s taken from his own busy life–which includes running his own business and organizing his own youth community group–to bring his smiling, positive influence to The Fort. Meet Fuyei, our volunteer of the month!
When did you start volunteering at Fred Wells? Why?
I only started volunteering at Fred Wells in January of 2013. My main goal for volunteering was to give something back to a sport that I have loved all my life. I was also motivated by the fact that tennis lessons for kids cost so much these days and since my father taught my brother and I for free, why not give back a little to the community. I also run a youth group here in the Twin Cities. It is an urban youth group for our Hmong community called Thao Kue Youth so aside from running my own business, trying to be a great husband, volunteering where I can, life has been definitely keeping me busy.
What brings you back to The Fort every week?
I really do this for the students and the love of tennis. It is quite amazing to build a bond with these kids and see their faces light up when they see you every week. I have seen a huge difference in our middle school program’s confidence on and off the courts. In the end, I really do hope they stick to Tennis and allow themselves to embrace a sport that will give back a lifetime of rewards.
What do you think your role as a volunteer is?
I believe my role as a volunteer is to lead by example for everything that I do. My life story is very similar to many of these kids and my goal is to give them hope to dream as big as I always have. Even though I feel that I am just starting my career, these kids may see us as awesome role models that they will continue to remember for a lifetime.
When did you start playing tennis?
I started playing tennis at the age of 13 years old with my younger brother out in Southern California. It was the summer after 8th grade and we would follow my father out to the Tennis courts each day after work and school. We started hitting against the wall and eventually worked our way onto the courts. I ended up playing tennis all 4 years of high school, 4 years in college and continue to play in Adult USTA leagues as of now.
What’s special about tennis–for you and for the kids in Tennis2College?
Tennis will always hold a dear place in my heart. It is definitely the sport of a lifetime and I hope that these kids can use these programs to enhance their own lives as long as they continue to play the sport and give back when they can. It has also allowed me to learn about teamwork, failures, hard work and most of all believing that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
Anything to add?
It has been a pleasure to work with the Fred Wells Tennis Staff! I have learned a ton working with my fellow volunteers (Luis, Hannah, Spencer and Caroline), my group leader Justin Margolies, his assistant Amira Jama, Judy Long and the rest of the awesome Tennis Staff at Fred Wells! Thank you for the opportunity!