Everyone needs a helping hand occasionally, and thankfully, some people are always willing to help—people like Ingrid See. Ingrid’s story is one of selflessness—you can tell when she tells her tale that she doesn’t think that what she does is special in any way—but it is—and so is she. 

A special type of person 

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, health care workers became instant heroes—they were the boots on the ground dealing with the unknown and with an overwhelming situation. The pandemic shone a spotlight on the dedicated healthcare professionals that we all depend on in a way that hadn’t happened before—even if it should have. Ingrid had worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in hospice/palliative care. Nursing takes a special type of person, but the nurses who work with people at end of life are a special breed.  

When the call came asking her to go back to work, to help deal with the pandemic, Ingrid didn’t hesitate, taking on a role at the Nancy Chan Palliative Care Abulatory Clinic. It was a difficult time with so much uncertainty and so much bereavement, but Ingrid is matter of fact about it—it was something that needed to be done—and something she did in a way that made every patient feel heard and cared for. 

From nurse to tennis coach 

Once the pandemic started to wind down, Ingrid found herself able to retire again—but also wondered what she was going to do with her time. Along with her Nursing Degree, Ingrid has an MEd in Adult Education, and she thought maybe she could do something with that—maybe she could teach a sport? She had a background in coaching soccer and was a tennis player too, so she started applying for jobs. 

By chance, Ingrid came across a new program: Tennis BC’s Community Tennis Facilitator. It had been postponed by COVID and the timing was right—she took the course. Through Jeannie Rohr of Tennis BC, Ingrid heard about a Tennis BC initiative to help new immigrants and refugees find their feet in their new communities through participating in a sport–tennis.  

The goal of the program is to help people make connections—especially when faced with learning to live in a new culture. Because of her earlier experience and her Community Tennis Facilitator qualification, and now a coaching certification, Jeannie thought that Ingrid would be a good fit—and she was. 

Comfort comes in many ways 

With Jeannie leading the sessions, Ingrid found herself in a familiar place—putting people at ease. Many of the participants had never had the opportunity to learn a sport. Not only that, but many were coming from unimaginable circumstances and form all over the world. Some spoke no English, and some had no shoes to play in, but they came anyway.  

Ingrid says, “Many people were really nervous about playing, but after a little while a change occurred. People went from tentative to laughing and playing tennis. It was such a relaxed atmosphere, and while they loved the tennis, the best part was the human connections that were made.” 

Reading between the lines—so much more than tennis 

It became so much more than tennis lessons. Friendships were forged—potluck suppers were held after the sessions—and the connections spread to the greater community too. “Many of this group volunteer elsewhere in our community now, including at the beginner tennis lessons—they are already giving back in so many ways.” 

“It’s so much more than tennis,” Ingrid notes, “It’s a new beginning for people that sets them up for success. If people feel safe and they trust you then they build confidence, they are successful!” 

It seems like a simple thing to teach a tennis lesson, but Ingrid is modest about what she contributes saying, “I feel honoured to be giving back. The privilege is mine.” 

Everyone benefits 

What started as a pilot program through a Tennis BC initiative has grown. The group from that first set of lessons have stayed with it, moving up to level two. It has expanded to include a separate group for kids, and there is now a waitlist.  

Success can be measured in many ways—but one of the most important is what you give—Ingrid gives of herself. It’s true that people will remember one thing about you above all else— how you made them feel.  Ingrid’s gift to put people at ease makes them feel welcome and safe—and through a simple game, connections are forged that make a stronger community. 

While Ingrid downplays her efforts and their importance to those new Canadians, Ingrid’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed in the tennis community and it’s time she got some recognition and tennis-related treat! 

This year, Ingrid has been chosen by Tennis BC and National Bank to take a VIP trip to the National Bank Open in Toronto as a thanks for her dedication not just to tennis, but to the community she serves where she will receive National Bank’s Community Award. Congratulations are in order!