Saturday, February 6 marked a special day in Kings County Tennis League's off-season. Our youth athletes enjoyed a unique educational experience--off the tennis court--at a footwear factory in the Garment District of Midtown, Manhattan.



The field trip was the latest installment in our series of efforts to inspire our youngsters through non-tennis enrichment. The event comes as a follow-up to our 2015 Google visit, which exposed the students to a new possibility, a career in the Technology sector with the world's biggest employer. Both field trips function as "real life" applications of our Off-Court Curriculum, which aims to help our students develop life skills outside of tennis.

Our host, Marcy Tennis Club Volunteer Omar Bailey, graciously welcomed 30 students and 15 parents to the factory, his workplace. He's the co-founding partner of Modern Vice, a luxury shoe brand that is designed, developed, and manufactured right here in our city. Omar's factory is one of the last remaining sites of its kind in Manhattan.

As young as age nine, Omar dreamed of working in the footwear design industry. After gigs with big name brands like Nike, though, Omar was ready to take his career to the next level as an entrepreneur. Omar has created masterpieces for celebrities including Shaquille O'Neill, Terry Crews, Lady Gaga, and QuestLove.

The experience strongly inspired the students, especially the few who said they're aspiring footwear designers. Professional dreams aside, the machinery, the manufacturing process, the creative work, and, of course, the finished products kept all of the students fully engaged. At the end of the tour and presentation from Omar, we challenged students with the question "What's your shoe story?" We asked the students to draw, explain, and name their own shoe.

Shoe design and manufacturing might have little to do with tennis, but we like that entrepreneurship--an individual, risky endeavor that requires belief in oneself--can be connected to our favorite individual sport. "You don't always have to go for the obvious," Omar told his listeners on Saturday. "If there is something you want to do, be confident and believe you do it."

Visit us on Facebook for more photos from the field trip.