Christine Beck began the Philadelphia NJTL chapter with one simple goal: providing opportunities to kids through tennis.
Now 44 years later, there’s no doubt she accomplished that, and much more.
A resident of Newtown Square, Pa., Beck was presented with the 2014 NJTL Founders’ Service Award March 15 at the USTA Annual Meeting and Conference. Beck was recognized for her outstanding contribution to growing tennis at the local level, and the tremendous impact she’s had on education and sport in her community.
“I could not be more honored to receive this prestigious award,” Beck said. “I never imagined 44 years ago when we first decided to start the Philadelphia NJTL chapter that we could have helped guide and mentor so many inner city kids from the Philly area down the right path.”
Two days after receiving the award, Beck still had the same feeling she experienced the night of the ceremony.
“Overwhelmed,” she laughed. “I’m totally overwhelmed. I never expected it.”
Unexpected or not, the award was certainly deserved. Having met Arthur Ashe on the junior tennis tour, Beck and Arthur’s friendship sparked a lifelong commitment to use tennis to influence lives and open doors for kids. Since then, she’s made it possible for young people of limited means to prepare to take leadership roles in society.
Christine and her husband, Leif, co-founded the Philadelphia NJTL in 1970, which now operates under the umbrella of the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education and reaches thousands of children each year.
As President and CEO of Gesu School, Beck has redefined inner-city education with a better than 90 percent high school graduation rate. She’s won many national and sectional awards as a result of her passion for improving the lives of Philadelphia’s youth.
This is the fourth year of the NJTL Founders’ Service Award, which was created to recognize an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to positive youth development through tennis and education, delivers outstanding service to underserved children with free or low-cost tennis, and provides education and life-skills programming. The award is given to those best reflecting the values of NJTL founders Arthur Ashe, Charles Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder.
Beck said her hope is that this recognition inspires others to get involved and make a difference in their community.
“Tennis is the hook I used to give children an education and opportunity,” she said. “That’s what really matters.”
To learn more about NJTL programming, click here.