Tennis Coach #140: Lisa Pugliese-LaCroix - The Journey of an Inclusive Tennis Coach and Advocate

Season #5

In this insightful podcast episode, Lisa Pugliese-LaCroix, Founder & CEO of Love Serving Autism, shares her experiences as a USPTA and PTR Elite Certified Tennis Professional and an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist in the field of autism. Drawing from her background as a former collegiate tennis player and her expertise in working with individuals on the autism spectrum, Lisa discusses key moments and valuable lessons from her coaching journey. From the importance of adaptability and visual schedules to understanding one's purpose and the power of inclusive language, she provides a holistic perspective on what it takes to be a great coach and foster an inclusive environment. Join us as we delve into her remarkable story, where passion, preparation, and trust have led to extraordinary outcomes on and off the tennis court.

Here is a summary of the key points;

  • 2.00: Worst coaching moment: When your player is overstimulated (from the environment) and out of routine. It's never going to be perfect.
    • This a great reminder for coaches to be adaptable and consider how much kid's actually like and appreciate routines. 
    • A great coach has the ability to differentiate your instruction.
    • 7.27: Creating a visual schedule. 
  • 8.19: Best coaching moment: US Open Kids on Court - With preparation and trust, anything is possible.
  • 10.48: Sliding Doors: July 2016 - There has to be something more ahead in life. Plant the seed, google how to start a non-profit organization, and the Love Serving Autism seed was planted.
  • 13.30: What Makes a Great Coach? 
    • Present - Being connected to your students.
    • Resilience - Recognize and accept the situation for what it is and continuously find new techniques for making things better.
    • Energy - Enjoy yourself, smile, and show that you care with your energy.
  • 15.40: What is your WHY? What drives you to coach? Why do you get up every day? What's your calling?
    • We are all motivated for different reasons.
    • We meet people for a reason.
  • 20.36: What did playing tennis at a highly competitive level teach you about the skills needed to be successful in your role today?
    • Perseverance/tenacity
    • Perfectionism - Learn how to forgive yourself when you are not on your 'A' game.
    • Focus - If you want something - focus on it  
  • 24.46: What has the adaptive tennis community taught you?
  • 28.26: What is neurodiversity?
    • A person who thinks differently, learns differently, or behaves differently.
    • Shift your language from disability to focusing on people's abilities.
  • 30.57: What are your top three tips for inclusive language?
    • 1) Use person first language
    • 2) Use words like 'unique' and 'differing' abilities, not disabilities (drop the labels)
    • 3) Ask the parents for some help in how you can best communicate and accommodate to bring out the best in their child?

The Coaching Podcast is sponsored by The Sampson Agency - a talent entertainment and sports management company owned and operated by Tina Samara.

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About Lisa Pugliese-LaCroix, Love Serving Autism Founder & CEO

Lisa is a USPTA and PTR Elite Certified Tennis Professional and an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist in the field of autism. For 20 years, Lisa has specialized in the evaluation and treatment of children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities. A former collegiate tennis player at Duke University and the University of Florida followed by WTA tournaments, Lisa enjoys combining her tennis experience and speech therapy background to teach the sport to children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. After working with children for 6 years as the FL program director for a national non-profit for autism, Lisa was inspired to be able to develop her own non-profit, Love Serving Autism, a 501(c)(3) organization in January 2017. In 2021, Lisa was elected by USTA National to co-chair the Adaptive Training and Education Subcommittee to develop an adaptive tennis curriculum. She is the chair of the 2023 USPTA National Adaptive Task Force. Lisa received USTA Nationalā€™s 2022 Eve Kraft Award for community service.

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