The red, green and blue tennis courts in Philadelphia’s Hunting Park neighborhood were like home for Jonathan Rosado. Just half-a-mile from his house, he taught on them and played on them. He felt lucky to have the courts close to home. More importantly, he felt lucky to have the opportunity to teach on them and in the neighborhood where he lived.
The community was lucky to have such an energetic, loving coach. And when Rosado was murdered in late December on his front doorstep — just a few blocks from those courts he called home — the community lost one of its leaders.
“This would have been Jonathan’s third year with us as a coach,” said Kareem Bryant, who oversees the community tennis instructors for Legacy Youth Tennis and Education. “He grew up in our program and, as an instructor, was an integral part of the growth of tennis in his area.” Lance Lee, Vice President of Tennis and National Partnerships at Legacy, said Rosado was a role model. Someone the kids in his program could look up to.
“He was walking proof of what tennis could do for someone,” Bryant added.
With the Philadelphia community around it, Legacy and its staff is doing everything it can to ensure Rosado, just 22 when he died, isn’t forgotten.
A memorial tournament at the Hunting Park courts will begin July 17. That morning, the courts will be renamed in his honor. A scholarship fund is also being developed to help provide access to tennis for kids in the Philadelphia area, like the kids Rosado frequently went out of his way to help at site locations such as Alexander K. McClure Elementary.
“He cared about their safety and their well-being, always,” Bryant said. “When parents were unable to pick their kids up, Jonathan would walk them home and then walk himself home. He would wait late after work to make sure they were safe.”
Rosado became so trusted in the area that he had a key to the school gym. The custodians knew him. The principal knew him. The nurses knew him. In an area that didn’t always have tennis available, he made the sport cool. Lee, who has worked with Legacy for 10 years, said he represented everything the organization had to offer.
“He was about bringing people together, whatever their background or situations,” Lee said. “It didn’t matter where someone was from. He wanted them to interact and play, and have the same opportunities.”
Rosado wasn’t just a coach. He was also a strong player who enjoyed the game as much as anyone. He played in the Legacy program for years and then at Philadelphia Community College. He was planning on attending Temple University in 2015.
“You can’t describe how much the community will miss someone like him,” Bryant said. “We have to do everything we can to make sure he’s remembered as he deserves to be.”