People always say, ‘Wait, you teach 4-year-olds?,’” says Metzger, from York, Pa. “They’re always surprised. But it’s easy to teach the kids because we make it age-appropriate with the equipment.”
Metzger also makes it age-appropriate with the theme of one of her classes. With a background in youth education, she knows that in order to reach a child, you have to connect with them. Her solution is something that all kids seem to take to: superheroes.
Metzger’s Superhero Tennis Program, aimed for kids 3-8, is one of the unique programs in Middle States reaching kids and getting them active through tennis. Instead of focusing solely on the technical side of the game, she focuses on fun and gives life lessons and learning experiences through games, themes and activities that keep the kids engaged and moving.
It’s offered to any child who would like to join, and has a strong response from parents of kids with special needs.
“It connects with all types of kids,” she said. “Whatever their ability or skillset, it works.”
The program runs just as you’d expect. The kids dress like superheroes, and Metzger sets up missions and goals for each class, which brings the fun up to a new level.
“Everything is about the secret mission. The kids have to save the day,” she said. “One day I’ll say, ‘Today we need to help the village. A hurricane came by and we have to create a building with tennis balls.’ Or ‘We need to hit a fire ball out of the town to keep things safe.’ The ball becomes the fireball and hitting over the net makes everyone safe.”
The Superhero program allows Metzger to teach all types of off-the-court lessons without it seeming like a learning experience. The kids learn about healthy eating, kindness and helping others. They also work on footwork and agility through obstacle courses and other challenges.
Through all of the classes, the feedback has been consistent.
“Every kid wants to be a superhero,” Metzger said. “It works.”