Great Neck rallies for tennis coach fighting multiple sclerosis

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Great Neck rallies for tennis coach fighting multiple sclerosis
The Great Neck community played a tennis tournament to support a coach fighting Multiple Sclerosis over the weekend. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Shapiro)

BY CASEY FLYNN

The Great Neck North High School girls tennis team hosted a tennis tournament on Saturday to raise funds for research on multiple sclerosis and increase awareness. The Great Neck community gathered in support of the team’s assistant coach, Mindy Alpert.

Alpert has struggled with MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, for 25 years. Through adversity, one thing remained constant: tennis.

The Great Neck North alumnus dominated in high school and college while winning championships on both levels. Unfortunately, when she was diagnosed with MS, Alpert’s career at Smith Barney came to a halt. The disease causes cognitive issues, which played a role in determining her future in tennis.

Without playing, Alpert’s love for the sport continued to shine as she began teaching and guiding  young tennis players.

In 2006, when she could no longer play, Alpert found her way back to where it all started, Great Neck North. Originally, she was offered the head coach position by the former athletic director, Peter Hugo, but “with the MS, I don’t know if I’m coming or going half the time,” Alpert said.

“You never know how you’re going to feel, so I chose to make coaching a priority in place of other things I could do that take energy,” she said.

She accepted a volunteer assistant coaching position, which she continues to fulfill today as much as her body will allow.

“I know six days a week, every afternoon, I’m going to go and focus on something positive, and hopefully give back and hopefully make a difference in high school kids’ lives,” Alpert said. “To me that’s one of the greatest things you can do in your life.”

Her passion and drive rubbed off on everyone, especially two juniors on the girls varsity tennis team. Alana Shapiro and Sophie Frenkel organized the fundraiser to show their appreciation for everything Alpert has done for them and the school.

“We knew we had to give back to her; she’s been an inspiration to me and our team for as long as we’ve known her,” Shapiro said. “Seeing all of the people that came out to support was really great. It was a successful day”.

Frenkel was “lucky enough to spend multiple seasons with Mindy,” as Alpert coached basketball at Great Neck North as well. “It’s most inspiring how she continues to be with us even with everything she’s been through. She’s had a strong impact on me,” Frenkel said.

“The girls on the team provide me way more than I could ever give them,” says Alpert. “Their spirit, eagerness to learn and growth as players gives me life and I’m forever grateful for them.”

The event raised nearly $3,000, which was donated to the National MS Society.

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