Matthew Warren (MNA ’05) wants you to play tennis. It’s not
only good for health and wellness, but it also connects you to new people and
takes you to new places.
“My BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is to try to build a
social movement through the game of tennis,” says Warren, executive director of
the US Tennis Association (USTA) Pacific Northwest section and new member of
the Mendoza Graduate Alumni Board. “I think tennis has the power to transform
It certainly transformed his in unlikely ways.
As a boy growing up in Florida, one of the most competitive
states for tennis, Warren didn’t pick up a racquet until he was 14. And then he
didn’t win a match in his first 10 tournaments.
“After that, I started practicing as much as possible and
took a lot of private and group lessons,” he says. “I quit other sports just to
concentrate on tennis.”
It paid off. Warren landed several tennis scholarship offers
and choose to play at Trinity University in San Antonio, which has a strong
tennis tradition. During his sophomore year, his team made it to the NCAA Final
Four. During his junior year, the team won the NCAA National Championship. Warren
was named an Academic All-American in his senior year. In 2013, he was inducted into the Trinity
University Athletic Hall of Fame.
When he learned the team would be playing for the
championship, Warren called his parents. “I wanted to tell them the great news
and to thank them for their support over the years,” Warren says. “But they asked
me to call a family friend. They told me, ‘She’s the one who made it possible
for you to take all those lessons.’
“Until then, I didn’t know I had a benefactor.”
Profoundly touched, Warren called his benefactor. “I told
her, ‘It’s because of you that I’m playing in the NCAA Final Four and national
championships.’ I promised her I would work to provide the same opportunities
He has. Over the years, Warren developed a family friendly
introductory program in eight states; created an after-school program that has
become a national programming model; refined a league model that has more than
29,000 participants; and established a need-based scholarship program.
The USTA recruited him in 2006 to help lead efforts to
fulfill its mission of encouraging people to play tennis. “We work to provide
health and wellness opportunities to everyone through the game of tennis,”
Warren says. “We are working to eliminate all barriers to entry and make tennis
accessible and affordable regardless of age and socioeconomic background.”
It is certainly a great time to be in his (tennis) shoes.
Tennis is the fastest-growing traditional sport in the U.S. with an estimated
28 million people playing nationwide. The USTA Pacific Northwest section, which
encompasses Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, is seeing exponential growth:
Its operating budget increased 30 percent from last year; six new staff
positions were added; and four new joint venture partnerships are set to kick
off this summer.
The tools and leadership skills he developed from the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) program were exactly what he needed for his current role.
“Before I found the MNA program, I had applied to various law schools and
public policy graduate programs around the country,” he says. “Then I heard
about the Notre Dame MNA program and felt that it was a perfect fit because my
vocational pull was toward the social sector. The notion of ‘Servant Heart. Business
Mind’ really resonated with me. When I
visited the campus for the first time, it immediately felt like home, and I was
really excited to be part of the Notre Dame family.”
Warren made the most of his time at Mendoza. Not only did he help
develop a South Bend tennis program, he also worked as a research assistant
with the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies on its Peace Accords
Matrix and contributed to a winning team effort in the Gigot Center forEntrepreneurship’s Notre Dame Social Venture Plan Competition with a proposal
to train youth in peace education.
He has maintained strong connections after graduation. “I keep in touch
with Tom Harvey [the Luke McGuinness Director of Nonprofit Professional
Development] and he has assisted me in strategic planning sessions with my
board. I also contact Mendoza faculty to brainstorm, problem solve, and assess
trends. It has been an invaluable resource.”
he is grateful for the chance to give back through the Mendoza Graduate Alumni
Board. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to give back to Notre Dame and the business
school, specifically. When you think about the confluence of the level of
academics with the great people in the Notre Dame family, it’s a special place.
And to be provided with an opportunity to give back, it’s something you can’t
say no to.”