Throughout the holiday season, Christian & Small will feature a special blog series here on Nonstop Insights called “Advocates in Our Community” that will be focused on how our attorneys and staff members actively contribute to the good of the Birmingham community outside of the office. This article has been cross-posted to the firm’s 2014 Holiday Giving Campaign website, www.nonstopadvocates.com.
Christian & Small Partner Brad Hightower learned to play tennis from his dad when he was growing up. His love for the sport has stuck with him through adulthood, which is why Learning Excellence Through Tennis (LETT) was the perfect organization for him to get involved in about five years ago and where he is now vice president of its Board of Directors.
When playing tennis, a “let” happens if a player serves the ball and it hits the net – an occurrence that allows the player to start the point over. This is where the name Learning Excellence Through Tennis (LETT) came from, and those who are familiar with the game will understand the play on words. Even for those unfamiliar with the sport, LETT’s name explains exactly what the organization strives to do with students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to play tennis at all.
LETT is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and a program of the Birmingham Area Tennis Association, Inc. that has been “improving children’s lives through tennis and education” since 1998. The in-school, after school and summer programs provide lessons, equipment and courts to play on to as many as a thousand students per year. Some of the programs are completely free of charge while others are offered at a discounted rate that’s much lower than the cost of private lessons.
“When I first got involved, I got to go out and play tennis with the kids, which has been my favorite part of working with LETT,” Brad said. “When the kids see people like me who are on the board, they may just think we’re old people who help out with the program. But when you actually step out onto the tennis court and hit the ball back and forth with them, they start to look at you a little differently.”
Brad said that there are many lessons that can be learned from tennis and applied to everyday life – even lessons that relate to practicing law.
“At the amateur level, it’s a sport without referees or umpires. The players are required to make the calls of the game, and they are responsible to play fair and do the right thing,” Brad said. “To me, being a lawyer is similar in that while we do have judges, we’re required to be up front with the judge, the other lawyers we’re working with, and with our clients because we’re considered officers of the court and it is our responsibility to see that justice is done.”
When Brad first introduced Christian & Small to LETT, we were impressed with the variety of educational opportunities it provides to students, and we’ve been proud to sponsor tennis tournaments and other events in the past few years. As Brad works to make our community more aware of LETT and its many educational offerings, we look forward to continuing our support in the future.