City Parks Foundation (CPF) is excited to congratulate Sara Soo-Hoo, Polina Libo, Esu Maat and Jenny Schnitzer, the four most recent inductees into our City Parks Foundation Sports Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame inductees are all alumni of our free City Parks Foundation sports programs, who participated for at least two years, and who have used the experience to help them excel both on and off the playing field. Nominees are selected by Mike Silverman, CPF’s Director of Sports Programs, and the final award recipients are determined by City Parks Foundation sports committee board members.
Sara Soo-Hoo and Polina Libo received the honor last November, while Esu Maat and Jenny Schnitzer were inducted just this past February. These four outstanding athletes join Brian Kritzer, who was inducted in 2011, as CPF Sports Hall of Famers.
Polina Libo was selected to participate in CPF’s Junior Tennis Academy at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at age 10. Through her dedication over the next 6 years, she emerged as one of NYC’s top junior players, ranking in the top ten in the USTA Eastern Girls 14s and 16s age divisions. In 2000, she competed in the junior girls doubles at the US Open Championships, and was awarded CPF’s annual Billie Jean King Junior Achievement Award. Shortly thereafter Polina earned a full tennis scholarship to Rutgers University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management. She continued to pursue her studies at Touro College, where she received a Masters degree in Special Education. Polina credits “City Parks Foundation’s scholarship tennis academy [with helping to give her] the opportunity to realize [her] full potential and many wonderful experiences that [she] will treasure forever.”
Sarah Soo-Hoo joined CPF’s free beginner golf program at Mario Fajado Park in Queens at age ten. Three years later, she was selected to participate in CPF’s advanced golf academy at the CityParks Junior Golf Center. Sarah soon developed into one of NYC’s top junior golfers, leading the Stuyvesant High School golf team as captain to their first Public Schools Athletic League Girls Championship golf title. In 2011, she was one of two players selected by the Metropolitan PGA to attend the PGA’s national Junior Ryder Cup Junior Academy in Florida. Upon her return, Sarah won the Met PGA Cherry Valley (N.J.) Tournament. Off the golf course, Sarah achieved a 97 GPA average in school and was recognized in 2012 as a NY1 Scholar/Athlete. She attends the Macaulay Honors Program at Hunter College with a partial scholarship from The Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association. Sarah has said, “I think my personal journey in the CityParks Golf program has proven to me that I can do anything. I went from some little girl learning golf on a baseball field to earning a golf scholarship and competing in Met PGA tournaments.”
Jenny Schnitzer started playing tennis with her family at Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park when she was seven years old. At age 14, she joined CPF’s Junior Tennis Academy and after four years of consistent training, became one of the program’s first college scholarship recipients. She was captain at St. John’s University from 1986 – 1990 and was a four time Big East Conference Academic All-Star. Several years after her graduation, Jenny was hired as the head women’s tennis coach for her alma mater. Jenny currently serves as USTA Eastern’s Associate Executive Director and has partnered with CPF over the years on its grassroots tennis projects.
Esu Maat learned to play tennis on the courts at Fred Johnson Park in Harlem and Mullaly Park in the Bronx. At age 14 he began to play in local tournaments and was encouraged by friends to try out for CPF’s Junior Tennis Academy. He was selected to participate in the program for three consecutive years, ultimately earning a full tennis scholarship to Farleigh Dickinson University. He won the NEC Doubles Championship in 1993 and graduated with an honors degree in Business. In 2013 Esu earned a Master of Science degree in Sports Management from Columbia University.
Esu currently serves as the Metropolitan Region Tennis Service Representative for USTA Eastern, the Director of High Performance Development for the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program. He is a USPTA and USTA Performance Certified Tennis Teaching Professional.
A big congratulations to all of our well deserving inductees!