As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world at the beginning of last year, Jason Pasion, who at the time was the head coach of the Hofstra men’s and women’s tennis teams, decided to help out. Armed with a medical degree and a desire to contribute, Pasion wanted to do his part.
“I remained in touch with a lot of my classmates from physician assisted school, and as I heard about the healthcare worker shortage and the obstacles they were facing every day, I decided, ‘You know what, I have the degree, I’m trained. Why not put it to use instead of doing nothing,” recalls Pasion. “Our season at Hofstra was cancelled, and I was only able to communicate with my team through Zoom. We weren’t allowed to practice, and a lot of them went back to their home countries. With everything that was going on, I really thought I could be of better use to the community.”
Pasion began volunteering at local hospitals, and re-connected with old colleagues and classmates as he helped in the fight against COVID-19. While doing so, he continued to work part-time at Sportime Roslyn, something he had been doing off and on throughout his time as the full-time coach for Hofstra, and NYIT prior to that, as a tennis pro.
Returning to the world of medicine, combined with an increasing role at Sportime, led Pasion to the decision to resign from his Hofstra coaching position and into the next chapter of his life.
"Going back to work as a physician assistant during the COVID-19 pandemic made me realize that I want to return to the healthcare field," said Pasion. "I also wanted to stay involved in the sport I love, which made the position at Sportime appealing. Ultimately, I will be able to spend more time with my wife and two sons.”
Moving on from collegiate coaching was not an easy choice to make for Pasion, who says he will miss interacting with all his players, with whom he is still in touch, and traveling for matches or tournaments. But Pasion has embraced his new role as the Director of Tennis at Sportime Lynbrook, where he hopes to have a similar impact, like he did while coaching a college team and in medicine, on the lives of people he interacts with.
“The biggest thing is I miss interacting with my team every day, on the court or off it,” said Pasion. “It’s definitely been a bit weird, and an adjustment. But I still do stay in touch with a lot of the players I recruited who are still there at Hofstra. They’ve been great, and they continue to keep me in the loop with what’s going on.”
That collegiate coaching experience is a valuable resource that Pasion is bringing with him to the Sportime community. For the last several years, he has served as a panel speaker at the annual JMTA College Recruiting Combine, and will now take on a bigger role for the event which was created and run by another former college tennis coach in Jay Harris.
“I’m really looking forward to taking on a role in that event moving forward, and bringing my insight into the recruiting process to help as many players as I can,” he said.
In his new role with Sportime, and increased presence helping out in the medical field when he can, Pasion’s two loves are now intersecting. He is part of a family of medical professionals, including his wife who is a maternity ward nurse, and has always enjoyed giving back to others, something he does on the tennis court with the players he is coaching, and to patients when he is in the hospitals.
“Tennis is my first love, with medicine coming in at a close second,” he says. “Tennis has always, personally, helped me sort of free my mind, and it truly makes me happy. I loved helping the players that were on my teams, and now enjoy doing so at Sportime as well.”
Tennis has always provide a cathartic-like outlet for Pasion, who first fell in love with the sport towards the end of seventh grade. He grew up a baseball player, but after hitting one day with his father, brother and sister, all of whom were tennis players, he knew tennis was what he wanted to continue to do.
Jason Pasion with Shawn Jackson at the All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma while he was the head coach at Hofstra University
Bolstering this love was a trip to the U.S. Open one summer with his then-coach Dennis Christofor, who he remains in touch with and who he credits for introducing him to the game.
“Watching Pete Sampras and some of these other great players on the practice courts and in the matches, it was amazing,” said Pasion. “It really changed my whole outlook on the sport. I was like, ‘I want to be like that guy.’ It got me wanting to play competitive tennis, and I went on to play collegiately at SUNY Oswego.”
Following Oswego, Pasion was set to head to medical school in the Philippines, but when his father got diagnosed with cancer, he decided to remain in the United States to help take care of him. As he did so, he also became an EMS worker, and was first responder on 911and at Ground Zero in the days following the September 11 attacks.
Soon after, he went on to become a physician’s assistant, and worked in family medicine before returning to his true love, as he says, which is tennis.
It wasn’t until the pandemic struck last year that Pasion returned to the medical field, and now as he has found a home at Sportime Lynbrook, Pasion hopes to continue to be able to help out all those who he comes across, no matter what the endeavor.
“I really want to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and that includes on and off the court,” said Pasion. “That’s what I like to do, and I’ve really taken a lot of pleasure in that.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.