Lewis’ Yes2Kids teaches Tucson kids joys of handball
Fred Lewis spent years at the top of the sport of handball.
Then he decided it was time to give back.
Nine years ago, Lewis created Yes2Kids, a handball club for kids who wouldn’t normally have access to the sport.
Handball equipment is inexpensive compared to most sports, usually about $40 for all you need.
But handball courts can be expensive to use, because most facilities are in member-only clubs, which can be too pricey for a family on a budget.
Through Yes2Kids, Lewis subsidizes memberships to the Tucson Racquet Club for the kids in his program. The club has about 15 youths, ages 12-19.
“In return for the instruction and access, we ask that the kids commit to showing up and practicing,” Lewis said. “They have to maintain good grades and show progress to graduation. Staying out of trouble is also a requirement.”
Now, the mostly Hispanic club members are moving on to the collegiate level in the sport. Pima Community College has six Yes2Kids members in its handball club.
It was students from Lewis’ program who formed the Pima club.
Lewis recently took 11 players to the Junior National Championships in Kansas City. Luis Moreno, Chris Maldonado and Raul Felix took titles in their divisions.
Club member Abraham Montijo, 18, said all club members have the same opportunities if they work hard and maintain good grades.
“We trust him,” the Pima student said of Lewis. “If we need something we know we can go to him. I learned from Fred to be more confident. He taught me to act like an adult in the real world.”
Handball provides multiple benefits to kids, Lewis said.
“It, of course, develops them physically and we hope it teaches them a healthy lifestyle that will stick with them,” Lewis said. “Because it is a very difficult sport, once kids have a bit of accomplishment, it’s a great builder of self-esteem.
“Also . . . it teaches them to form relationships that may lead to contacts with the business community when they grow up.”
Lewis spent his youth playing handball with his parents in New York City. It prepared him for a lifetime dedicated to the sport.
His first national title was at the University of Miami, where he received a master’s degree in education in 1972. He won the 1969 open singles title for Miami.
He went on to win more than 10 national titles in various divisions.
“The sport has stuck with me because I have many friends that I stayed close to because of the sport,” Lewis said. “It helped that I was very good at it at a very early age. It’s also great because of the individual nature of the sport. All you need is one other person and you have a game.”
For more information on Yes2Kids, call 440-0528.
GET THE GEAR
What you need to play handball (prices are approximate)
> gloves $15
> can of balls $10
> eye guards $10-15
> Four-wall: The indoor form of the game. It actually has five walls, a
front and back wall, two sidewalls, and a ceiling
> Handout: the transfer of the serve to the opposing team
> Hinder: an interference with the flight of the ball
> Serve: Commencement of play when one player drops the ball to the
floor and on its rebound strikes it with one hand so that it hits the
front wall and rebounds to the correct spot on the court
> Three-wall: Usually the outdoor form of handball