The Mary and Frances Youth Center will be a national leader in university-community collaboration for positive youth development.secured payday loans online
The Mary and Frances Youth Center provides programming and training to enhance the lives of youth in the Richmond metro area.
- Empower youth to broaden their expectations in life
- Inspire youth to identify and engage their talents
- Support youth in strengthening their life skills
How it all started
In 2000, an initiative called Advantage Virginia was established. Advantage Virginia was an initiative led by VCU and advised by a board of local and national members committed to making Virginia a destination for tennis. Their plan was to build a world-class tennis facility in Richmond that would attract major tournaments and to develop a youth tennis academy. The program was designed to benefit both VCU and the greater Richmond region.
The tennis academy would be a developmental program for youth, offering tennis instruction, tutoring and mentoring to aid the city’s youth and build teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline. The key ingredient would be the topspin lob program. The program would develop mini-camps with tennis instruction and an academic component, utilizing volunteers.
A truly unique sport
The tennis academy would emphasize the true uniqueness in the sporting world. Not only is tennis a sport that can be played for a lifetime, but in many ways it can be a model for life based on the values it encourages. Tennis teaches honor, integrity and good sportsmanship. By gaining an appreciation for the game, tennis players gain personal pride, self-esteem and self discipline.
In 2006, Advantage Virginia was placed on hold when the appropriate land could not be identified. However, what survived is what we know today as Lobs & Lessons. Michael Fraizer, former CEO of Genworth Financial Inc., and his wife Elizabeth, decided to underwrite the program and construct a dedicated facility on the VCU campus. Over the next year, the youth tennis academy became a reality.
Becoming a reality
The idea became a reality when the project went from the drawing board to the courts during the 2005 academic school year. The Lobs & Lessons program was first implemented by graduate students from the VCU Center for Sport Leadership. The program consisted of tennis & mentoring and was piloted with the William Byrd Community House.
Lobs & Lessons would find its new home several years later on the VCU Monroe Park campus along West Cary Street. The VCU Cary Street Gym was being renovated, and along with it, a portion of the Cary Street field hockey field was allocated by the University for the future home of the Mary and Frances Youth Center. Construction began and on September 28, 2007, the Center officially opened.
In honor of Mary Fraizer & Frances Royer
“This Center is established in honor of our mothers, Mary Desmond Fraizer and Frances Meunier Royer, for their everlasting spirit and support of children reaching for the future and achieving their dreams,” said by Elizabeth Fraizer. The grand opening and dedication was led by past VCU President Dr. Eugene P. Trani and remarks were given by former Mayor L. Douglas Wilder.
“Happiness is not found but made. It is the consciousness of good, and the greater and more lasting this is, the greater will be your happiness.”
“Always caring for others. Always reaching out to those in need. Always driven by hope. Her spirit lives on here, today and tomorrow.”
—Michael Fraizer, of his mother, Mary Fraizer
Tennis superstars Andre Agassi & Steffi Graf
Following the opening in October, tennis superstars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf came to the Mary and Frances Youth Center for the Genworth Youth Fair. The event offered fun-filled activities for all ages, including a tennis demonstration and clinic with Agassi and Graf.
A team of VCU faculty, staff and community partners with expertise in youth development engaged in a strategic planning process that involved the examination of current programmatic offerings, stakeholders’ perspectives on community needs and assets, and the work of other universities that focus on youth development. Along with establishing the vision, mission and guiding principles, the committee recommended the following:
- Explore the opportunity to become a local and regional youth training resource for youth program and quality and youth development professionals
- Become the programmatic home and structural point of access for Discovery@VCU and other youth development programs at VCU and that revised programs focus primarily on underserved youth and their connection to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) pipelines
- Enhance the current Lobs & Lessons program to include stronger parental engagement