Outdoor programs become popular during spring

Fred McCormick

Teaching tennis to a group of 5-year-olds seems like a challenging task. There is so much to explain before handing nearly a dozen little boys and girls racquets to swing.

So basic hand-eye coordination is where it starts in Kinder Tennis, one of the programs offered during the spring through the town of Black Mountain Recreation and Parks Department.

Judy Eubanks has been teaching the sport she loves to young children in the Swannanoa Valley for about 20 years. She works with the 5-year-olds on moving their feet and proper timing with their hands.

“Being a retired teacher I’ve always encouraged kids to do the best they can and stay active,” she said. “You only need one other person to play tennis and it’s a lifelong sport, so I try to instill a love for the game into them while they’re young so they have a sport to play for life.”

Staffed by as many as 30 volunteers, many from the Black Mountain Tennis Association, there are lessons for children ranging from age 3 (there are two 3-year-olds in Kinder Tennis currently) to 15. And the programs are popular, according to Eubanks.

“Counting our camps in July we have around 80 kids involved in the tennis programs each year,” she said. “And a lot of times it’s the kids from our programs that end up playing tennis at the middle school and high school.”

Children are not the only population that benefit from the programs offered through the recreation and parks department, according to Eubanks, who also sits on the town’s recreation board.

“For a town our size we offer as much or more than larger towns,” she said. “I mean we have programs for everyone from the little kids all of the way up to the seniors in the community.”

Adult coed softball, which has been offered on a consistent basis since 2003, begins on Monday, May 16, at Veterans Park. The league attracts an average of about 126 players each spring, according to recreation and parks director Casey Conner.

“There is a moderate level of competitiveness out there,” he said. “It’s a fairly relaxed atmosphere and the players really seem to enjoy it.”

The season culminates with a playoff tournament at the end of June, when the teams play for the championship.

“We keep the records and update the standings,” Conner said. “And the players are very interested in the standings. To some of them it may as well be Major League Baseball.”

Another popular attraction for the town is the pool, which opens the weekend of Memorial Day. According to Conner there will be a couple of new classes available under the guidance of pool manager Beth DuBrock.

“This will be the first time that we offer lifeguard classes at the pool,” Conner said. “Another thing that Beth is starting at the pool this year is swimming lessons for preschool-age children that are held in the weeks before the pool opens.”

The lessons, which begin on Monday, May 16, are designed to teach young children basic swimming safety in the weeks leading up to the pool’s opening.

Spring will also see the return of the Smart Girls program, which teaches middle school girls about the importance of accepting themselves.

“This has been a really good program since we started it,” Conner said. “We’re still in the process of figuring out the right formula for it, but the numbers have been steady.”

For more about recreation and park programs offered by Black Mountain, visit or call 669-2052.