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Going Above + Beyond For ALTA: The 2023 League Coordinators of the Year

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The 2023 ALTA Coordinators of the Year. Pictured L-R: Brandi Nickerson, Lisa Hills, Annette Harlow, Jerry Niemeyer, Didi Chapdelaine, Kim Freeman, Karen Harris, and Sandy Bishop.
The 2023 ALTA Coordinators of the Year. Pictured L-R: Brandi Nickerson, Lisa Hills, Annette Harlow, Jerry Niemeyer, Didi Chapdelaine, Kim Freeman, Karen Harris, and Sandy Bishop.

By Emmy Powell, Net News Editor

ALTA league coordinators are the front-line volunteers of the best tennis league in the country. Each year, coordinators field questions, settle disputes, and guide captains and teams through the regular season, the playoffs, and City Finals. ALTA appreciates each one of its volunteers and honors those who go above and beyond. The 2023 ALTA Coordinators of the Year are…

 

Sandy Bishop
Pickleball League
Birthplace: Roanoke, VA
Career: Insurance, banking government, and currently serving as a USA Pickleball Ambassador

ALTA history: I first became an ALTA member in 2005 playing in both women’s and mixed leagues. Over the years, I have served as team captain multiple times in my women’s leagues. While continuing to play tennis, I also began playing pickleball. I have been a Pickleball League coordinator since the 2023 summer inaugural season.

Pickleball was new territory for ALTA in 2023, and the volunteers had to be ready for anything. “All of our coordinators in the summer season of pickleball were notable for their excitement regarding ALTA’s new sport,” said Marla Michalewicz, ALTA’s Pickleball League VP. “Sandy was available to her captains, answered questions, talked through the issues, and reached out to the overall coordinator or me when she needed clarity or support. But she distinguished herself by being available to me when I needed feedback regarding rules and procedures from the ground level. The new league presented some pitfalls for our new volunteers, and Sandy navigated those pitfalls with grace and humor. She diffused certain situations with a diplomacy you wouldn’t expect from a new coordinator. She exemplifies the volunteer spirit that defines ALTA.”

Didi Chapdelaine
Thursday Women’s League
Birthplace: Greenwich, CT
Career: Seminar Director for continuing medical education, now a stay-at-home mom and grandmother.

ALTA history: Junior League coordinator, overall coordinator, VP of Media, and Thursday Women’s League coordinator

“Didi is always available to her teams and captains with sound knowledge of ALTA rules and procedures,” said Karen Sullivan, Thursday Women’s League VP. “She has been a C-level coordinator for a number of years and her teams are so fortunate to have her as their coordinator. I have had the pleasure of working with Didi in our Thursday League and have been so impressed by the skills, experience, and enthusiasm she brings to her role as coordinator.”

Kim Freeman
Junior Leagues
Birthplace: Columbus, OH
Career: CEO of the Freeman/Knight family (my glorified version of raising a boatload of girls)

ALTA history:
Coming up on a total of 15 years of being a Junior League coordinator and currently an overall coordinator.

“We can always count on Kim to be the first to go above and beyond,” said Wendy Fee, Junior Leagues VP. “She exceeds our expectations and always steps up when she is needed most. Kim has been an asset to ALTA and a fantastic volunteer. When in her presence, you can sense a very self-assured woman who demonstrates great leadership qualities.”

Annette Harlow
Senior Leagues
Birthplace: Durham, NC
Career: Financial advisor

ALTA history: This summer (2023) was my first season as a coordinator. I’m a newbie! I took up tennis late and started about 20 years ago when I left my career as a financial advisor. I’ve captained dozens of teams, including women’s, mixed, and senior leagues.

Harlow jumped in with both feet and a lot of enthusiasm during her first season as an ALTA coordinator. Overall coordinator Jane Milton said, “Annette had some interesting situations come up this season and she was thoughtful at how she approached them. She would always confirm her thoughts and responses before giving them to the captains. She has a very good grasp of the ALTA rules and how to apply them. She listened to her captains and gave them sound advice and had a good rapport with all of them.”

Karen Harris
Mixed Doubles League
Birthplace: Copperhill, TN (Go Vols!)
Career: Amazon Global Executive Relations and Restauranteur

ALTA history: I first joined ALTA in the late 90s. Since 2021, I have captained a Sunday Women’s League team, served as an ALTA mixed coordinator, and helped my local tennis center create beginner ALTA teams. I am passionate about advancing ALTA’s mission, supporting ALTA captains, and engaging local community members to play more tennis. I am also incredibly honored to serve as ALTA’s Foundation Secretary for the upcoming term. Let’s go, team!

John Lowell, Mixed Doubles League VP, claims Harris has been a remarkable coordinator. “To paraphrase one of her captains that I spoke with, ‘she was a coach and a teacher, and she kept us out of trouble,’” he said. “When I first spoke to Karen about becoming a coordinator, I noticed a book she carried around with her as a captain. It was more organized and complete than anything I could imagine. She talked about her passion for making ALTA better. Well, this year, she certainly walked that talk.”

Lisa Hills
Senior Day Leagues
Birthplace: New Orleans, LA
Career: CPA, worked as an auditor for 10 years. Left the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom of two sons. Has served in various volunteer positions for the past 32 years.

ALTA history: Moved to Atlanta in June 2000. Joined my first ALTA team in spring, 2002. Started at C-6, played as high as AA-3 over the years, and current level is A-7. Captained my first ALTA team in the fall of 2003. Since then, I have captained 31 seasons, including Junior Boys, Thursday Women, Sunday Women, Mixed, and Senior Women: ALTA Coordinator for Thursday Women since fall of 2007 and Senior Day Women since fall of 2022.

“Lisa is a knowledgeable coordinator, and she works well with captains that have presented some major issues,” explained Joan Marcinko, Senior Day League VP. “Lisa is levelheaded, professional, knowledgeable on all ALTA rules and procedures. Lisa also is a good listener and a wonderful communicator. She is really good at calling me when any issues arise too, she always keeps me in the loop.”

Brandi Nickerson
Sunday Women’s League
Birthplace: Muncie, IN
Career: I worked in pharmaceuticals after college and have been a licensed realtor since 2015. I achieved the Atlanta Realtors Association Multi-Million Dollar Producer Award 2015-2022.

ALTA history: I played volleyball in college and began playing tennis through ALTA in 2015. I’ve captained and co-captained several teams and became a coordinator in the spring of 2023. This is my second season as a coordinator.

“Brandi is one of our newer coordinators, but she’s done an exceptional job providing support for her captains and teams from the very beginning,” said Susan Levin, Sunday Women’s League VP. “Her enthusiasm, positive attitude, and warm personality are contagious! Brandi is knowledgeable about the rules and always eager to learn more. She enjoys the interaction with her captains, keeps them informed with clear communications, and when there have been challenges or issues needing a resolution, she addresses them with professionalism. She’s always willing to help and assist others whenever needed. She’s currently an active member in five of our ALTA leagues (2023) and has been described by some as an ‘ambassador’ for ALTA, due to her love of tennis and for our organization.” ALTA loves welcoming new volunteers!

Jerry Niemeyer
Men’s League
Birthplace: Des Moines, IA (before color TV)
Career: I spent 35+ years in the automotive aftermarket. Prior to retiring, I worked for more than 10 years in the real estate market in Atlanta.

ALTA history: I am approaching my 35th year as an ALTA volunteer. I was Chairman of the Board in 2014 and ALTA President in 2011. I was first Vice President in 2010. I also served as VP of Media and Special Programs and was the Men’s League VP in 1997-98. I have served as a coordinator in the Men’s League, Senior Leagues, and the Mixed Doubles League. This is the second time I have been honored with this award. I was Men’s League Coordinator of the Year in 2006. In 2024, I’ll be the Pickleball League VP.

Volunteers who have been around for a while are extremely valuable to ALTA. “Over the years, Jerry has served ALTA in just about every role, and continues to volunteer where needed,” Men’s League VP Greg McAfee said about Niemeyer. “One thing that sets him apart is how he helps new captains learn how to be great captains by explaining the rules and keeping them on track with managing their team.”

 

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