BY MIKE MEANEY
I was just 19 years old when I was asked to coach Team NL at the Atlantic Indoor Championships. I set out to pick up a case of tennis balls at Margo Carnell and Garnet Kindervater’s house, and when greeted, Margo posed the question of how I could make a living coaching tennis – with a puzzled look for this young wannabe coach. Well, the funny part is I ended up coaching her son Jordie Kindervater privately for a number of years before he moved to hone his craft in the sport at ACE Burlington, and later himself ended up in the coaching business after a successful NCAA career at the University of Alabama, suiting up for the Crimson Tide. I still see his mom to this day at the club and have reminded her of this story several times. She doesn’t remember, but I digress.
Newfoundland and Labrador is a big geographical area and has just over 500,000 people with some of the worst weather in North America. But, somehow our tiny province with one indoor tennis facility has produced so many strong players, coaches, and executives from the local, provincial, national and international part of the sport. Jordie Kindervater is one of them. I remember Jordie being a strong hockey player, and it would eventually become a conflict with tennis if he was going to pursue it to a much higher level. I was glad tennis won out, as I knew his athletic and competitive desire to win would help him reach a high NCAA level at worst.
Moving away when you are young to a new tennis environment and new school is no easy task. I did it and know how hard it can be missing parents and friends. “Without a doubt there were immediate obstacles that I encountered when making the sacrifice to move away from my family, take a risk and really put my all into my future athletically and academically,” expressed Kindervater. But, what he would get when moving away was exactly what was needed for him to develop into that leader he became in the high level of NCAA tennis and in his career as an athletic director. “Aside from being fortunate enough to train with the best coaches and players from across Canada, I was forced to mature quickly at a very early age and that served me well when I adjusted to playing college tennis in the SEC and facing inevitable adversity on the court.”
Jordie was destined to seek out a career after tennis that was complementary to what he had done in the sport of tennis, and the associated qualities needed to succeed at the highest levels of sport and NCAA. “Going into my senior year at Alabama, I still was not sure what I wanted to do after I graduated. I knew that I had a genuine deep-rooted passion for sport and competition. I sat down with my coaches (Billy Pate, now the Head Men’s tennis coach at Princeton) and Lee Nickel (Head coach at Buffalo) and they encouraged me to use my experience at Alabama and try college coaching,” said Kindervater. Six months after he finished at Alabama, Jordie took on the role of assistant coach at Buffalo, under the mentorship of Coach Nickel. They put together a winning team from the ground up, recruiting some solid Canadian and International players, winning two conference titles in three years.
It has been a whirlwind of moving about for Kindervater, but his goals were to become a D1 Athletic director, rather than a head coach. “ I took a risk, stepped out of my comfort zone and took a position back in Buffalo, to start the path of where I am today,” stated Kindervater. Jordie is now the Assistant Athletic director for development / Major gifts at the prestigious Ole Miss.
The number of Newfoundland and Labrador tennis players that have gone on to do tremendous things for the game outside the province, have all got one thing in common. And, that is where they come from, they have not forgotten their roots. “I was inspired by so many people during my junior career, I look back at my family first as being there for me and supporting me through thick and thin. Being from Newfoundland, I watched some of the best players that the province has ever produced rise to the top of the national rankings and play college,” he said.
Jordie has done it all, reaching the NCAA Sweet 16, a top 10 national ranking and was the Captain for 3 years guiding the Alabama Crimson Tide. He was also a top 8 nationally ranked junior in Canada, and top 5 nationally ranked in doubles. Jordie graduated with a bachelor of science in consumer affairs. In addition to all the on and off cour success, Jordie still took time to give back and was a volunteer member of the student athlete advisory committee. Allow yourself to step out of your familiar surroundings, give back, and be a team player, and you will reach your goals just like Jordie Kindervater did. It doesn’t matter where you are from, it can be achieved.
By Mike Meaney, Tennis Director, Newfoundland & Labrador Tennis Association
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