Volunteer Spotlight - Stephanie and Craig Koppmann


Stephanie and Craig Koppman’s energy and good-natured humor should jump off the page. For many, many years,, they have spent a long weekend working the hut table at the Glen View Club, the host club for the APTA Grand Prix Chicago Charities. They always have fresh stories about interacting with the game’s big hitters. 

Craig said, “So many players went out of their way to come up to us and introduce themselves. They shook our hands and took the time to be courteous, even after a match when they are on their last reserves. It isn’t like this just at Charities. It is the same at Illinois States or Illinois Intermediates or any of the local tournaments here. That is why we do what we do. We get so much enjoyment from the people in this sport.”

Why They Volunteer

“I think one of the reasons this sport is so contagious is that there is an immediate reward system. You see progress, as a beginner, very fast and it makes you come back,” Stephanie said. Neither Koppmann was a racquet sport person. They were both swimmers in college, and Craig went on to compete at a very high national level. He said, “I like the strategy, but my first love is the trash talking. It’s the opposite of swimming.”

Long History of Hut Commanding

Since 2000, the couple has participated in tournaments and events, as players and worker bees. Stephanie has worked as a facilitator, coordinator, team captain, and hut commander at various tourneys. The 2014 Women’s Lake Forest Open benefit tournament was what cemented her interest in helping out. Stephanie said, "The tournament has a wonderful close bonding feel to it. As Hallie Bodman said, ‘I love that our paddle community is about so much more than the sport!’” 

This year, per usual, the couple spent the Chicago Charities in the hot seat. They ran the Glen View Club hut, managing myriad logistics and putting teams on the courts in the correct order and placement, especially as the later rounds started and Live Streaming began. The two were both the air traffic controllers, leading from the tower, as well as the marshallers with the orange sticks, guiding teams to their spots. They were the information booth for players and local fans looking for certain teams’ courts. “At times, it’s pretty complicated. You can’t be rude or pushy, but at the same time, you need to get teams on the court, making sure they’ve had the proper rest, especially in the late rounds,” Stephanie said.

Craig added, “There are people who have greater passion than we do. It’s never a single person, it’s infectious. That is why we volunteer. If we can protect the spirit of fair play, then you can get people coming back and back. The Chicago Charities leaders, Jason Love and John Noble, do so much, you just want to do well for them, and protect the leaders!”

Craig made the analogy that “it’s like leading an orchestra that isn’t in tune, but you can’t tell them that. And at times, you do ask yourself, ‘What the H are we doing this for?’ Like when I’m carrying a ladder for the umpire through a crowd. However, the camaraderie is unparalleled. We are in close quarters, the conversation is constant, and we are part of a team effort.”

His final observation on platform tennis is profound. “The game itself is about the push and pull; it’s a very synchronized game with your opponents. That is the mentality off the court as well. We are all in this together.”


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