Linda Glassel spent most of her career as a successful marketing executive at sports equipment companies, including Prince and Wilson. An avid runner and former college tennis player, she has turned her sights on the nonprofit world, launching Back on My Feet San Francisco in 2016. The organization supports homeless people through an innovative running-based program. Linda is a new member of the Tennis Coalition SF Board of Directors.
1. After a successful career in sports marketing, what motivated you to launch the SF chapter of the non-profit Back on My Feet?
I have been fortunate to work for many great brands and learn a lot throughout my career and I wanted to be able to utilize those skills in a role that would make an impact in the community. Given my love for sports and the knowledge that something as simple as running or walking, e.g. putting one foot in front of the other, can be such a catalyst for change, I fell in love with the whole notion of what Back on My Feet stands for and looks to accomplish. It is a revolutionary way of approaching an ongoing challenge and an opportunity to work with individuals in the community that are looking for a simple hand-up, not a hand-out.
2. How would you describe the role exercise plays in Back on My Feet's approach to ending homelessness?
Among organizations serving the homeless in the United States, Back on My Feet uses an atypical model. Back on My Feet uses running as a way to restore dignity and promote social inclusion among the homeless and then layers on education, employment and housing support to build long-term social and economic security.
Back on My Feet views inclusion in a positive, stable community as an essential part of providing homeless services and one that improves health, education, employment and housing outcomes. It is all about putting one foot in front of the other - which everyone can do - and about a hand-up not a hand out.
3. You were a varsity tennis player at UC Santa Barbara? Do you still play?
I will admit, I don't play as much as I would like but am committed to getting out and playing more in 2018!
4. One of your accomplishments at Prince was signing Maria Sharapova to a lifetime equipment contract. Who are some other tennis players with whom you worked?
I had the opportunity to work with some tremendous talent throughout my years at Prince and Wilson. I worked with legends including Stan Smith, John Newcombe, Martina Navratilova and Gene Mayer!! I was fortunate to sign both US and international players from Michael Chang and Pat Rafter to the Bryan Brothers, John Isner, James Blake, Sam Querry, Gael Monfils, Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer and hundreds more. One of favorites is the wonderful Jana Novotna, who recently passed away; she was an amazing player and friend of the sport and will be missed!!
5. You recently joined the Tennis Coalition SF Board of Directors. What about its mission resonates with your interests and experience?
I grew up playing tennis down on the peninsula and played many tournaments throughout my years of junior tennis at Golden Gate Park. Preserving the opportunity for the community to learn and play the game of tennis, in addition to other life skills associated with playing and being involved in the sport, is priceless. Tennis is truly the game of a lifetime; I met my husband playing the sport as well as many lifelong friends that I continue to keep in touch with, all because of the wonderful game of tennis.