FORT BELVOIR - The Smart Start program at Fort Belvoir has been teaching sports fundamentals to children ages 3 to 5 for years now. Youth Sports Director Jerry Arrington has taken children through sports like soccer, baseball and basketball.

But golf'

"Yeah, this is definitely a new one," he said with a smile as he set up for a session Tuesday.
Arrington said many of the older children in the class have done well with the sport. "I'm surprised they picked it up so quickly," he said. "The older kids can focus more, and they've done really well."

Putting and chipping stations were set up around Specker Field House, in addition to a full swing station.

Before the kids could hone their skills on the imaginary greens, Arrington warmed them up with toe touches, shoulder shrugs and a quick run.

Children held oversized clubs with a guide at the top of the shaft - left hand on yellow, right hand on red - and took shots at Velcro targets.

Rhonda Sullivan brought her 5-year-old daughter, Kate, who was filling in for her brother Ryan, who couldn't make it that evening.

Sullivan's children are Smart Start veterans who have gone through most of the sports programs offered here at Belvoir. "We did the traditional programs and ran out of them," she said. "When this came up, we thought it was a good time to get them involved. I wanted to find a good, non-competitive way to introduce them to the sport, and Mr. Jerry does that."

Peyton and Tyler Millwood, ages 4 and 3 respectively, joined their mother Jennifer, who said the program gives her children a chance to follow in their father's footsteps.

"Our family, and their dad, is a huge fan of golf," she said. "He always goes to the golf course and the boys want to go, too. This lets them feel like they can be good like Daddy."

Millwood also appreciated Arrington's contribution to the program. "He's great with these kids. He's got a lot of patience and bravery to stand right next to a bunch of kids swinging clubs," she joked.

Of course, the traditional sports, such as baseball, are still up and running. Youth Sports and Fitness Assistant Director Rashawd Pope runs that program.

"Our goal is to teach them the basic skills like running, batting and catching," Pope explained. "It's very cool to work with these kids and instruct them on how to play the sport."

LaToya Scruggs said her son, 3-year-old Kyron Walker, has always had an interest in tee ball, so she signed him up.

They played at a station in which Scruggs and Walker were supposed to roll the ball on the ground to one another. But Walker seemed to have more fun throwing the ball past his mother, clear across the gym. "I did it, Mom!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, you did. Now go get it," Scruggs said, laughing.

Whether the activities were done one hundred percent correct or not, Scruggs sees Smart Start as a unique opportunity for parents to interact with their children. "It gives us some one-on-one time with them," she said. "We're always cooking dinner and tired after work all day. As parents, it gives us a chance to spend time with our children and really be involved with them."

Arrington is excited about the mix of old and new. He will implement the long-awaited football program in August. "We've been waiting for that one," he said. "It's just rounds out an already great program."

Page last updated Thu June 11th, 2009 at 13:54