Oct. 3, 2019, POTTSTOWN, Pa.,—To say Jim Corum is a tennis fan would be an understatement. In the early 1990s, Jim started tennis programs in the public parks in Pottstown, offering his services on the courts as a coach and mentor to underserved youth.
What Mr. Corum began almost 30 years ago—along with his commitment to bringing tennis to underserved youth and promoting good health—has grown to become Greater Pottstown Tennis & Learning (GPTL). In July, GPTL honored its founding father by naming the new courts at the Maple Street Park in Pottstown the Jim Corum Community Courts at an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
GPTL leaders and PAHWF President David Kraybill join Corum at the dedication.
“I could have never dreamed that the little community organization I founded in the early 1990s would have ever grown into the national organization it is today,” said Jim Corum, 91.
Today, GPTL is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which is directly supported by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Foundation as part of a nationwide network of 300 nonprofit tennis organizations. This national network just celebrated 50 years of impact, bringing tennis and education together to change lives.
“Undoubtedly, from my perspective, GPTL would not be where we are without the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation supporting our mission and giving us a chance when our 501(c)(3) was pending. If it wasn’t for their funding, we wouldn’t have gotten to a national level of building these courts,” said Kerriann Herdelin, Executive Director of GPTL. GPTL continues to be inspired by Jim’s original vision and the organization’s humble beginnings. With an initial grant from the Foundation in 2011, GPTL was able to offer students at the Pottstown Middle School free tennis afterschool programs Monday through Thursdays. “This program was the anchor of us fulfilling our mission,” said Herdelin.
The interest in the school program blossomed through the years, eventually leading to the development of a boys and girls middle school tennis team. “Hopefully, this feeder team will be the foundation for strong high school tennis teams in Pottstown, introducing a self-regulated sport at a younger age,” said Herdelin.
GPTL’s successes since 2011 has, indeed, bred more success for the organization. Today, GPTL runs free National Junior Tennis and Learning programs for over 1,000 youth in Pottstown School District as well as free adaptive (special needs) tennis year-round. By bringing free tennis into schools and communities, GPTL mentors life skills, healthy behaviors and learning.
The improvements at Maple Street Park Tennis Court—which included the resurfacing of two existing courts, construction of a third court, new drainage, new fencing, and building a new pavilion – was just the latest milestone in GPTL’s ongoing success story. However, being able to name the courts after Jim Corum—the same courts where he initially taught tennis—was an absolute privilege.
The new courts are a pathway to expand GPTL programs and provide more opportunities to youth in Pottstown. As evidenced by so many success stories—from personal victories to college scholarships—tennis is their vehicle to
an advantage in life.
This story appeared in the fall 2019 issue of 'Well-Informed'—the Foundation's semi-annual community benefit report. Read more stories that show the impact of our grantees.