The Great Outdoors

Lifetime Sports Academy Celebrates 25 Years

The twenty-fifth season of the Lifetime Sports Academy successfully wrapped up with a fun day and award ceremony at McMillen Park for kids and parents. More than 850 participants in 2023 and over 31,300 since its inception, developed skills in the lifetime sports of golf, tennis and swimming. Group lessons were offered to boys and girls, ages 7 to 18 for seven weeks in June and July. Lessons focused on skill development.

Each year, the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department provides certified coaching and highly trained professionals who direct lessons in swimming, tennis and golf. Offering instruction in three sports has been a successful formula throughout the years. The Lifetime Sport Academy has developed a solid reputation and attracts a huge number of kids each summer.

This year, the following numbers of lessons were given: 1,735 golf lessons, 1,116 tennis lessons and 554 swim lessons. Participants have the opportunity to earn new tennis rackets, golf clubs, and more. In 2023, 50 sets of golf clubs and 25 tennis rackets were earned. Since its beginning in 1998, Lifetime Sports Academy has awarded more than 2,194 tennis rackets and over 1,485 sets of golf clubs to participants who passed their skills tests.

“We’re proud to reach the twenty-five-year mark for the Lifetime Sports Academy,” said Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Director Steve McDaniel. He added “Teaching the life-long sports of tennis, golf and swimming at no cost is key to the mission that was started by Jerry Fox, Tom Jehl and Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation—and we couldn’t do it without the strong public-private partnership.”

McDaniel observes, “Over 31,300 youth have had the opportunity to participate in athletic activities that they may never have had the chance to try, if not for this program. They come to McMillen Park, they have some fun, learn new skills and some even go on to play sports in high school and area youth leagues. It’s a phenomenal program for the community and for our department!”

The Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department’s Lifetime Sports Academy is sponsoring the First Tee National School Program in 34 Fort Wayne Community Elementary Schools for the ninth year this fall. The First Tee in-school golf program promotes character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf and is the result of a cooperative effort between the Indiana PGA, the Indiana Golf Foundation, Inc. and Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation.

For more information about the Lifetime Sports Academy, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 427-6000 or visit

The Waynedale News Staff
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