Editor’s note: Nancy Cox is the founder of Research Story Consulting and former CPG corporate researcher. Her work and play include words, sketchpads, cooking (not baking) and the occasional sock puppet.

Passions, hobbies, healthy distractions and even guilty pleasures – discover how the research community plays and how that plays out in their work life. In the Venn diagram of work and play, what happens when work and play overlap? Research colleagues share their work and play stories in this interview series by Nancy Cox. 

Buddy Up Tennis is my play and my passion. Buddy Up Tennis is a national nonprofit organization that offers high-energy adaptive tennis and fitness programs for children and adults with Down syndrome. Volunteer Buddies are paired one-on-one with our Athletes – that’s the “Buddy” in Buddy Up!Tennis has been a major play in my life since I vowed in seventh grade to dodge the eighth-grade physical education teacher by playing on the tennis team instead. I’ve now played some form of competitive tennis for more than four decades, pausing only when I was a corporate VP. When I “retired” from that job to my more flexible marketing consulting career, I picked up my racket again along with increasing my volunteer commitments. 

In September of 2018, my volunteerism and my love for tennis came together. I was watching the NBC Nightly News and Kate Snow did an “Inspiring America” feature on an organization called Buddy Up Tennis. Buddy Up Tennis had been named the United States Tennis Association adaptive program of the year and had conducted a mini clinic at the U.S. Open in Arthur Ashe Stadium. I decided during that 4-minute segment that I wanted to volunteer for Buddy Up! I ran upstairs to my computer and discovered the organization hadn’t made it to Dallas … yet.

At first, the Buddy Up founder was a bit skeptical of my interest. I’m the only Buddy Up coordinator who does not have a...