Following a break from tennis for Independence Day Weekend, our Marcy students eagerly returned to the courts on Saturday, July 9.

July is Cognitive Awareness Month. We lightly introduced the concept at the beginning of class, but dug deeper during the off-court segment. After stretches and warm-up laps, we played a game that tested our reasoning and judgment. We began standing in the center of court's north side as a group, surrounded by three sets of cones--green, yellow, and blue--in various corners of the court. When our Site Leader, Lucca, announced a color, we ran as a group to the corresponding set of cones. The game not only tested our students' endurance, but their ability to make rational decisions in response to cues. At one point during the game, Lucca called out, "Red!" as a test of judgment. About a third of the students and volunteers began to run toward the nonexistent set of red cones. The drill was a great mental and physical challenge.

Tennis lessons for the day prioritized forehand and backhand volleys. For some students, the no-swing, powerful punch was an easy review, and for others it was an introduction to something completely new. Students participated in stations including a groundstroke-volley combination drill, Volley-Style Champion of the Court, targets, and a racquet-free exercises including squats.

Following our station rotation, our volunteers administered individual paper surveys on Cognitive Awareness. Most students were unfamiliar with the fairly advanced concept, but we hope that by end of the July, they will have a strong understanding.

Next, our Educational Coordinator, Gary, asked everyone to pair up. Most pairs consisted of volunteer and one student. One partner was given a tennis ball, and the other was instructed to obtain the tennis ball from their counterpart "using any means necessary"--safely, of course.

Most student-volunteer pairs ran unnecessarily in circles trying to swat the ball out of the other's hand. But one team completed the exercise correctly. They didn't run. They didn't scream. One partner merely politely asked the other for the ball. So the best way to get the ball was not through a physical contest, but through use of conversation and emotions.