Start a Youth Sports League
When Braxton County Schools said they couldn’t offer soccer, Braxton parents did it themselves. A parent took out a newspaper ad, asking if others wanted their kids to play soccer.
Their example – and many others – say: This is something you can do!
Ten years later, Jennica Barker is one of 20+ parents who coach in The Braxton County Soccer League for more than 200 children at a field they lease from the county. Barker’s four kids all play in the league. “It gives me another way to be with them,” she said. And as of 2013, Braxton County started offering high school soccer.
In Ritchie County’s Harrisville (population 1,876), citizen volunteers have turned an abandoned school building into a community gym and multi-use facility. The local Assembly of God church started the effort with a financial donation and a lot of volunteers. With almost all donated labor, they refurbished the gym and installed a rubberized walking trail around the edge. “Our little town could otherwise could never have afforded a facility like this,” said Doug Jackson, a lead volunteer.
They call it “The Gym.” A children’s basketball league plays inside and a mini football league and soccer league play free of charge on a leased adjacent field. In exchange they help keep up the field.
Eight West Virginia communities are lucky enough to have YMCAs and/or YWCAs, which offer a range of afterschool sports programs. But in communities that don’t have one, Harrisville and Flatwoods show what citizens can do.
Read more about The Gym at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Gym-in-Harrisville/186076728151989 .
Advice on ways to get started:
- How to start a youth sports league or youth sport nonprofit. These two links are both helpful. One is for non-profits. http://www.ehow.com/how_5890403_start-youth-sports-league.html and http://www.ehow.com/how_6746708_start-youth-sports-non_profit.html
Here are some high-quality resources:
- Canfit.org: Great guidebooks and handouts. This whole site is worth exploring. Particularly aimed at helping lower-income communities.
- Christian youth sports league resources. Practical resources and guides for Christian churches that want to start leagues.
- National Alliance for Youth Sports. Has strong sections of advice for recreation agencies and parents.
- Upward Sports. This is a Christian youth sports organization that helps churhes organize teams or leagues. Go to the upper left corner and type your zip code into “Find a place to play”
Want to start a student sports team or league? Want to connect with others who have done it?
- First, inventory existing leagues and groups in your area. What’s missing? (There is no statewide overall list of privately-run West Virginia leagues, though lists exist for some specific sports.)
- YMCA of Southern WV: Get ideas about a variety of YMCA sports programs and get-moving programs. Click on “programs:” http://www.ymcaswv.com
- Y-Move: All WV YMCAs offer the 30-minute Activate America exercise program as part of the daily afterschool program: “30 minutes of functional conditioning in a kid-friendly circuit training format that utilizes lively cardio-cascular, agility and balance games to get your child active. Y-Move helps improve body composition, joint integrity, bone density and muscle endurance.”
- Little League baseball: If you type your zip code into the “finder” on this national site, it will give you contact information for your regional little league group. If you don’t have an active group, they will help you develop one. http://www.littleleague.org/learn/about/contacts.htm
- Soccer: Member clubs of the West Virginia Soccer Association serve between 18,000 and 20,000 young West Virginians, starting at age 4. The Association sponsors a yearly statewide tournament and provides guidelines for coaches, etc. http://www.wvsoccer.net/
- Tennis: Youth tennis is not yet organized statewide. You can find various local opportunities by typing “tennis, West Virginia, afterschool” into a search engine.
- West Virginia’s min-Mountaineer Afterschool Program, specializes in tennis. This national program has two local West Virginia locations – Berkeley Springs and Beckley – and aims to spread statewide.
- Swimming: About a dozen West Virginia swim teams belong to USA Swimming, the
nation’s largest governing body for swim teams. Together, they are West Virginia LSC (Local Swim Clubs). Most train at a YMCA, a college or university or some other indoor pool. Membership has lot of benefits, including extensive training and background checks for coaches and other resources: Click on “Member resources” at the top of the page. http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1505&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en
- Fairmont’s FAST (Fairmont Area Swim Team) has a well-developed program with three different levels of competitive groups and regular events. http://www.fastwv.com
Bicycling: http://www.nationalmtb.org/nica-leagues/start-a-league/ National Interscholastic Cycling Association (high school mountain bike league) offers a good how-to-start-league handbook.
- West Virginia Mountain Bike Association includes student groups.
- Boys basketball: http://www.wvaauba.com/
- For any other sport: Go to Ask.com and type in afterschool and the name of the sport, and a variety of resources will come up. Then go to a search engine and type in the name of the sport, “West Virginia” and “afterschool,” and West Virginia resources will come up.
- Start a junior Olympic program. Type “USA Junior Olympic programs” into a search engine to find a wide variety of links to various junior Olympic sports. Junior Olympic programs are eligible for various helpful resources, including grants and events kids can attend.
Want to make sure snacks and other aspects of your program are healthy?
- Canfit is a national organization dedicated to helping communities improve their afterschool programs. The Web site is packed with good ideas. http://canfit.org/our_work/nutrition/
Also see these related Try This pages: Start a children’s running group, Girls on the Run, afterschool programs, running / walking groups, school run-for-fun groups, share school buildings after hours, Get parents and kids exercising together, Hula hoops, Frisbees and other fun stuff