Two Best Friends Give Back to the Community
Mon, Oct 18, 2021 12:00 AM
“We are Philadelphia Sunchasers, Not Excuse Makers.”
Cohen and Steckel run the Philadelphia Sunchasers, a year-round, out-of-school youth tennis program in West Philadelphia. The non-profit, volunteer-run organization works closely with the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as well.
Steckel is a professional sign language interpreter and works closely with the deaf community, while his best friend, Cohen, loves volunteering and teaching tennis.
“I always loved tennis and the friendships I’ve made throughout my life,” Cohen said. “I wanted to express it more and give back to the community. The program fell together naturally.”
The initial goal was simple: allow children to have a fun and enjoyable experience through tennis. The pair worked together to create the Philadelphia Sunchasers program back in 2015 and currently teach 40-50 students between all their locations. The program continues to grow.
Steckel and Cohen’s friendship goes way back. It all began when Steckel offered an open seat to Cohen on the school bus, 35 years ago. They grew up together, battled through high school tennis together and now are still a strong doubles team while inspiring children to play tennis.
As doubles partners and program partners, they wanted to create an out-of-school school tennis program that would spread their “work hard, have fun and love the game” mentality to others.
These days, their goal is to provide fitness, fun, friendship, good sportsmanship and citizenship to encourage the enthusiasm of the inner-city youth to play the game of tennis. They also work closely with USTA Middle States and the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department to gain access to courts in the area and help in any way they can.
“Our vision is to offer the opportunity to learn tennis throughout the Philadelphia education system and teach tennis to hundreds of children over the next decade and beyond,” said Cohen.