Anthony Wayne Pack has been an advocate for youth, sports, community relationships and sportsmanship throughout his adult life and career in Cincinnati, Ohio. Working with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and co-founding the Inner City Tennis Project with his partner Rachel Fair, he has been mentor and confidante to thousands of youth across the city. Along with Ms. Fair, Mr. Pack has taught the game of tennis and the countless life lessons that come with it for more than 27 years. Fairness, integrity, studiousness, and respect are just some of the traits that pupils in the ICTP are exposed to and have instilled in them by the time they leave the program.
As a nine year old, Mr. Pack’s grandfather conveyed some of that old school wisdom that kept him out of trouble as a young man, and helped to produce the citizen that he’s become today: First, don’t bring any disharmony into the household through teachers calling or police intervening in his affairs. Secondly, become the best student possible because that was his job at such a young age. Thirdly, become the best citizen he could possibly be. Do not have neighbors worrying about him as a little boy running around the neighborhood causing havoc. Finally, Mr. Pack’s grandfather taught him to keep from “bumping his head and needing stitches.” Life will create problems, but if those problems can be minimized, or not be so drastic as to change the course of a person’s life, then those bumps aren’t so bad after all. Mr. Pack has also been influenced by many of his teachers, specifically elementary school teachers. Nathaniel Green, his 4th grade science teacher, gave him this: if you cheat you’ll steal; and if you steal, you have to tell a lie to cover it up. So, don’t cheat, ’cause then you won’t have to steal off of somebody else’s paper, and you won’t have to tell a story or a lie to cover it. Mr. Roger Tillford was Mr. Pack’s 7th grade History teacher. One day Mr. Tillford taught a lesson to his class by sitting a student down who’d committed some unspeakable act by junior high standards and made him write the Gettysburg Address until he understood the importance of it. Mr. Pack reflects that sometimes our punishments aren’t so bad with the added influence of hindsight.
The road for Mr. Pack, however, has not been entirely smooth. He has had to overcome his share of challenges. One of which has been finding common ground with his clients and colleagues. Mr. Pack shared with me that getting someone to meet you halfway, sharing one another’s vision, is of the utmost importance when trying to accomplish a goal. This man who has helped guide and direct the lives of so many others humbly admitted that he isn’t perfect, and that he has made some mistakes. He has expressed his desire to have been a little more political and put his values on hold to make way for some other opportunities that could have come down the pipeline. In the midst of all his dealings with so many children throughout his tenure with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and the ICTP, one thing Mr. Pack wishes could be different is his relationship with his daughter: he’d like it to be closer. Mr. Pack commented that if given the opportunity to do it over again, he would have given in a little more and met his daughter and potentially his ex-wife somewhere closer to the middle, rather than sticking to his guns so much.
Reflecting back, Mr. Pack feels blessed to have led a bountiful life, full of inspired children and satisfied parents. He has said that of his accomplishments, he is most happy with being a good teacher, both in sports and professionally with the CRC. He values giving his peers, constituents and clients a piece of his vision and allowing them the confidence to fill in the full picture with their own. As legacy, Mr. Pack would like to leave folks with the knowledge that he did the best he could with what he had at the time, and that he created a platform for his students to surpass his own works.
As I reflect on what Mr. Pack has meant in my life, I recognize him as one of my great teachers, not only in the game of tennis, but also of the game of life. Mr. Pack has been instrumental in playing one of the many father figures I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from through his spoken word and through his actions. I can honestly say that although I’ve made some mistakes in my life, the tutelage of Mr. Pack has helped keep me from needing even more stitches than I’ve already gotten.
Written by Greg P.
“Sometimes it’s easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission.”
“There are no good or bad strokes; there are no good or bad forms. There’s what is effective, and what’s not effective.”
“At the end of the day, you look in the mirror and if you can be happy with who looks back at you, you’ll know that it’s a good day.”
“In some ways I’m one of the richest people you’ll ever meet. And I see him every day in the mirror.”