Youth sports provides recreation, learning experience
Youth football players pose with a trophy during a previous season. Youth sports registration is open now through Aug. 2 for tackle football, cheerleading, tennis and fall soccer.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 18, 2013) -- The Fort Rucker Youth Sports and Fitness Program is taking registrations for its various youth sports programs.

Registration is open now through Aug. 2 for youth tackle football, cheerleading, tennis and fall soccer, said Randy Tolison, youth sports and fitness director, as a way to support the Army mission and help create well-rounded youth.

"We are here to support our Soldiers, and part of supporting our Soldiers is making sure that they are capable and able to perform their mission," said Tolison. "We give them an alternative for their children to participate in our sports program.

"Also, we want to keep our young people engaged in activities that will hopefully keep them from becoming engaged in other extracurricular activities that might cause them to get into trouble," he added.

Additionally, the youth sports program is also beneficial in that it keeps children at higher fitness levels.

"We also feel that it's important for children to stay active," said the director. "There is an obesity epidemic going around and we're not exempt from that, so we want our children to be in shape when they finish our program, feel good about themselves and feel like they can compete with the next level of sport that they are going into."

Fitness is only part of what children experience while participating in sports on Fort Rucker. The youth program also instills values into its children that officials hope will stay with youth throughout the years, said Tolison. Some of the character traits they learn are teamwork, sportsmanship, respect and trustworthiness, but one of the biggest gains children will receive are the friendships they make.

"Our military personnel travel from state-to-state and even country-to-country, and we want our young people to develop a special bond with other children so that they can relate with them when they get to their next duty station," he said. "We just want our children to be well rounded, and part of that is playing sports."

One way the youth sports program is doing that is through a change it made in the tackle football program, which has changed to become intramural 7-on-7-tackle football. This means that teams will only play other Fort Rucker teams. This change was brought about in order to better the program and even out the competition in the sport, said Tolison.

"The outside communities that we have been in leagues with, they were just so much bigger than us that we just couldn't compete with them physically," he explained. "We decided to make the change for the betterment of our program and to allow our children to experience success."

Tackle football is available to children ages 8-10 for Pee Wee, and 11-13 for Midget, and cost for registration is $65. Cheerleading and cheerleading mascots are open for ages 4-5 for Pee Wee mascot, 8-10 for Pee Wee cheerleading, 6-7 for Midget mascot, 11-12 for Midget cheerleading, and cost is $20 for youth ages 4-5 and $40 for all others. Tennis is for ages 7-18 and cost is $40 per youth. Fall soccer is available for ages 4-5, training league; ages 6-7, Pee Wee league; ages 8-9, Mites league; ages 10-11, Midgets league; and ages 12-14, Junior league. Soccer registration is $20 for ages 4-5 and $40 for all others.

All children who wish to participate in youth sports must have a child, youth and school services membership, must have a current physical that will last throughout the season, and must meet age requirements by Sept. 1. If a child is not registered with CYSS, parents can have them registered at parent central services, or call 255-9638.

Another important aspect of youth sports is safety, and coaches play a large part in keeping the children safe, said Tolison, adding that the program is always in need of more coaches.

"Our coaches go through some rigorous training, and we make sure, that they have a first-aid kit on them," he said. "We do train our coaches and we don't want them to take unnecessary risks, we don't want any child hurt, so safety is our top priority."

Each coach goes through three to four hours of training and is thoroughly screened through background checks.

Tolison encourages people to coach youth sports and said that one of the perks of coaching is that their child gets to participate in any of the sports free of charge.

"We need good, quality people, but they don't necessarily need to be the most knowledgeable person on the sport that they are coaching," said the youth sports director. "We just need somebody that is willing to learn about the sport and willing to sacrifice some time for our children."

For more information, call 255-2257 or 255-0950.

Page last updated Thu July 18th, 2013 at 12:34