Are you languishing? Feeling depressed or in a rut? Not connecting with people in the way you once did? There’s an easy solution, cheap, fun, and transformative. If you are in high school, February 5th was the beginning of Spring sports: Baseball, softball, lacrosse, track, golf, swimming, volleyball or tennis. Not in high school, try petanque or jogging or kite surfing or yoga or how about a nice walk?


Participation in sports has decreased nationally but increased in California which is good, unfortunately in Sonoma it has been met with declining enrollment which means fewer kids are participating. Add in COVID and an increase in virtual living and there are just fewer kids prioritizing what was once an expected part of the school experience (and should be an expected part of the school experience like they do in Europe and many other parts of the world). But this does not have to be, we could be packing our courses and courts and fields if only we could find some way to make it as interesting as staring at a screen.


Tennis is hard. To play you need two people, rackets, balls and a court and a willingness to play for 10,000 hours until mastery is achieved. OK maybe not 10,000 hours but to improve in all sports you have to practice and a town without a tennis club is at a disadvantage because while we do have great public courts, students are on their own to improve (practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect).


The good news is that there are always courts available (the SVHS courts are now open during non-school hours and no longer need to be reserved), and there are great walls for solo learning (Larson Park and Altimira). So, there are no excuses. Why then did I have only one person show up for the Boys Tennis Team last year? Well, it’s more than the coach being way too opinionated but maybe that plays into the equation.


High School sports are cyclical. Some years the interest is huge and the talent is plentiful and some years seasons get cancelled because of lack of interest. This year after free lessons over the Summer and Fall (2 participants) plus a drop-in program during January (0 participants), I now have 10 boys signed up for the tennis team. But numbers are not as important as the student who met me at the courts last Thursday and said, “Mr. Williams, I want to be on the tennis team, I’m not very good but I want to get better.” That’s all it takes, a will to play. Sure, winning is important but after last year, when I thought I had single-handedly killed tennis at SVHS, I just want to work with anyone who wants to learn.


Sports also play a huge role in getting us through this rather depressing time in life. Did you watch the best Superbowl in many years? Great game, unfortunate outcome and while I still think football is not worth the amount of damage it does, I’m back to watching and cheering. Although I’m a little concerned for T. Swift after watching her boyfriend scream into his coach’s face (I have a pretty strict “don’t scream in anybody’s face” policy on my teams).


Then there’s the Warriors who my wife and I like watching so much that we text back and forth on game days, “7:00 tip off, hope GP2 is back.” And “They will get it together, seeing glimmers of the old Klay.” Now, if you have no idea what these two statements mean, you are not living in my village but if you do understand, then we are instantly bonded because we speak the same language. Finding your village also provides a huge mental health boost.


I don’t even secretly mock my Nascar race fan friends anymore after attending a few races and learning that there is much more to it than turning left.


Spring is a time of growth. Time to shed the heavy coats of winter, get out, smell the fresh air and feel alive. Think about a sport you have always wanted to learn then go out and do it. Could be as difficult as surfing or as easy as tag but whatever you choose, it will get the endorphins flowing and make you feel better.


I have never gotten back from tennis practice or riding home from work or a walk around the Rez and felt worse than I did before the activity, it’s just not possible.


And if you can discover a new village in the process, all the better.





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