September 25, 2022

Mundelein resident Kevin Minor was more than just a suburban dad with a sharp, analytical mind and a deep devotion to his wife and three daughters, who were NCAA Division 1 varsity tennis players. He was also a respected mentor in the local tennis community who tried to expand access to tennis for underprivileged youth interested in playing competitively.

When the Indianapolis native died suddenly last month at the age of 54, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Kristina, Jasmine and Brienne said they immediately knew how to honor his legacy while carrying on the work he was doing as a member of the Chicago District Tennis Association. A GoFundMe raised $10,000 in half a day, growing to $25,000 after two days.

The family’s plan is to pay for the expenses of young players who cannot afford the rising cost of having a tennis coach or traveling to tournaments across the country. The family hopes to set up an endowment or scholarship fund to help young tennis players.

Tennis had been a staple in black middle-class households since the late 19th century, but rising costs made it tenable.

A 2015 article in Bloomberg estimated the annual cost of tournament attendance and equipment at around $40,000. That was before the pandemic made open spaces more valuable and increased travel costs.

“It’s a very expensive sport, even if you come from a wealthy background,” said Minor’s wife, Michelle, an automotive industry auditor. Her husband, a computer and electrical engineering graduate, worked at Motorola for 30 years, according to his family.

The idea for the scholarship was a labor of love for Michelle Minor and her daughters, who have used tennis to achieve their academic and professional goals. The eldest daughter, Kristina, is an associate athletic director at Northwestern University, while Jasmine is an Emmy-winning television journalist in Indianapolis. Brienne won the NCAA Women’s Division I tennis championships in 2017, becoming the first black woman to win the singles title.

Although Kevin Minor is an avid sports fan, his family said he was not an overbearing sports parent who insisted on winning above all else. He mostly supported his daughters, only acting as a coach in a few instances.

“I never really saw him as a ‘King Richard’ type,” Kristina Minor said, referring to the Oscar-winning film starring Will Smith as Venus and Serena Williams’ father and coach. . Minor left the coaching to his daughter’s coach while showing his support from the stands.

“Essentially I think he tried to strike a healthy balance between ‘I’m here to support and coach when needed,’ but also not being a helicopter (parent),” Kristina Minor added. . “He was everything I needed, whenever I needed him. It was never a fear of, ‘if I lose, he’s going to be crazy.’ He was so proud that I wanted to keep making him proud.

Friends and colleagues of Kevin Minor have called him a role model in the Chicago tennis community. a shining example of how to raise competitive, well-adjusted children; and an indispensable tennis dad who could usher new parents into the fold of travel league sports and mentor them in ways to affordably transport their children to tournaments.

“One of the things Kevin was really involved with was other parents,” his wife recalled. “When everyone started, everyone was trying to figure out what tournaments you had to go to and what kind of hotels did you have? Do you drive? Do you fly? Everyone was trying to (find out) what was the best way to bring our kids to the tournament so the coaches can see them.

Players in the Midwest are at a disadvantage, as they only have spring through fall to play outdoors and must bear the costs of playing indoors. Travel is also an essential part of competitive tennis, as players build their ranks to receive invitations to important competitions.

“That was kind of his goal. How can we make it easier for kids to get into these tournaments where college coaches will see them,” said Michelle Minor.

Veteran tennis coach Mark Bey called Kevin Minor an unusual man who somehow found a way to lend a helping hand despite the demands of his busy life. “He was minding his own business at work, as a family man, at church and on all the tennis committees he belonged to and still had time to help others,” said Bey, whose clients over her 32-year career all included Miner’s Daughters. “The guy had an ability to help and serve others that is… more than abnormal – it’s kind of unicorn-type giving behavior.”

Tennis was a passion for Michelle Minor and Kevin Minor, who each played tennis in high school. Coincidentally, Kevin and Michelle’s father played tennis while attending Purdue University. “My sisters and I played in high school. We didn’t have the money to play a lot of tournaments, to practice and that sort of thing.

But the couple had a plan to carefully introduce their daughters to extracurricular activities and let them choose. “One of the things we wanted our kids to do was have a passion for something other than academics because we knew academics would always be important, but we wanted something that when they woke up in the morning, was important for them to work on and not something we had to push them to,” Michelle said.

In a statement, the CDTA called Kevin Minor an “invaluable member of the CDTA Board of Directors” who served as president for one year, in 2015. “He was a strong advocate for the Chicago District’s junior players, wanting to help them to enrich their own lives through the camaraderie and community that have resulted from competing on the junior tennis circuit.His family’s establishment of the scholarship fund is a powerful continuation of his spirit in the Chicago tennis community.

“I can’t begin to estimate the number of hours Kevin spent contributing work to not only our organization but other families who were navigating junior tennis themselves. His untimely death leaves a huge void,” CDTA executive director Jill Siegel told the Tribune in an email.

Kristina Minor said her family was overwhelmed by the generosity of people who donated $10,000 in less than 12 hours. She learned about all the people her father had touched heavily at the funeral. She said she spoke to people who said her father educated them, helped them with computer problems, or received advice or guidance.

“I always knew what he did for me and my family, and I guess I never really understood that he was the same with everyone. The pace at which GoFundMe unfolds and the incredible outpouring of support, love and condolences … bear witness to this.

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