GSMP 2015 Site Visits: Veronica Osogo at WTABy Brian Canever September 25, 2015
Veronica Osogo is all smiles inside the Billie Jean King Conference Room of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Standing beside her mentors, Kathryn Chappetto and Cindy Lupkey, Veronica knows she is in good hands.
“In only four days, the team has already come up with a list of short- and long-term goals for me,” said Veronica, founder and president of Zion Zone Tennis Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. “They really want me to have the best Action Plan possible so that I can take Zion Zone to the next level.”
During our third site visit of the 2015 U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, Drs. Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman, co-directors of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, & Society, and I, spoke with Veronica, Kathryn and Cindy about their collaborative efforts to improve the lives of children in Kibera and Mathare, two of the largest and most dangerous slums in Kenya.
Formerly one of the top-ranked national tennis players in Kenya and a 2009 Kenyan Sport Personality of the Year, Veronica’s presence has the WTA buzzing with excitement. To demonstrate the team’s enthusiasm, Cindy, manager of global administration and projects, printed an action photo of Veronica and taped it next to a photo collage of past and present tennis legends, including Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, on the WTA’s Wall of No. 1s.
“When I first heard Veronica was coming to the WTA, my immediate reaction was complete joy,” Cindy said. “It couldn’t have been a more perfect match. With her being here, and hearing her story, the wheels in my head keep turning every day with new ideas for how she can be more successful than she’s already been for her country.”
Kathryn, the WTA’s director of partnership strategy, also believes wholeheartedly in Veronica’s mission. In the conference room, she reminded her that the different goals she has set for Zion Zone Tennis Foundation are not restricted to a timeline, and may come to fruition five, 10 or 15 years from today.
“For me, what’s exciting about Veronica being here with us, is that she isn’t just going to create a plan for a presentation,” Kathryn said. “She is going to create something in her community that has the power to inspire girls in Kenya, and all over the world.”
Listen to the Center’s podcast conversation with Veronica, Cindy and Kathryn at the link below