VICENZA, Italy -- The Youth Sports & Fitness Program at Child Youth Services here has just wrapped up a fun spring season of team sports.

The season included T-ball, baseball and softball, along with individual sports of track and tennis, fitness and outreach opportunities with the Homeschool Physical Education Program, Vicenza Middle School and a newly developed running club.

With participation of more than 350 athletes, it takes outstanding sports staff personnel such as Christina Giaretta (fitness specialist), Anthony Peters (field maintenance), Potter Swartz (sports specialist) and Ladi Pecsuk (assistant director) -- along with exceptional volunteers and parents -- to collaboratively create a fun, safe environment where youth can learn, play and develop not only sport but also life skills through sport.

The youth baseball program is available to children as early as age three and up to age 15. The three- to four-year-old athletes participated in the Start Smart "parent and me" program, where athletes and parents met with the coach each week. During these meetings, the children started building a foundation for the fundamentals of the game. Baseball athletes ages five to nine participated in T-ball or baseball, where fundamentals of their game continue to be developed. The 10- to 12-year-old baseball and 13- to 15-year-old baseball and softball teams furthered their sport development by competing with other teams. They played Aviano Air Base and participated in a friendship game against Italian baseball team Vigardolo di Monticello Conte Otto before finishing the season in tournament play against other installations within Installation Management Command-Europe.

The tennis program taught by two coaches ran twice each week for an hour with youth ages 6-15. Week to week, coaches would work with athletes on how to hold on the racquet, footwork, backhand, forehand and more.

The track program was led twice weekly with the support of many parent volunteers. Youth determined whether they enjoyed long-distance running or short sprints, and trained for their respective end-of-season track meet events such as the 50m, 100m, 200m dash, or the 800 and 1600 run, as well as long jump or shotput throw. The meet was an opportunity for youth to showcase their skills, and it was a day filled with anticipation and energy as AFN Vicenza was present supplying the athletes with warm-up music and event commentary.

This spring, the youth sports team also started a new initiative with the "Run for Your Life" running club. The free club was open to youth registered with Child & Youth Services. Forty athletes and some of their parents participated, using the hour to run several miles each day. Collectively, the club ran a total of 226 miles. Information will be coming soon as to when the club will start again.
Outreach programs included the Homeschool PE program, which gave children who are homeschooled an opportunity to participate in activities such as yoga, floor hockey, kickball and more.

During the summer months, several clinics are available to keep youth active and engaged. All clinics offered are $20, and each enrollment is open and closes the Friday before the start of each clinic. Clinics offered include triathlon, archery, CrossFit 101, lacrosse, basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Refer to the CYS Summer Activities trifold for more information or call our office at 0444-61-7160 or 0444-61-7161. Anyone with questions about upcoming seasons or interested in becoming a volunteer coach should give the office a call.

The youth sports staff would like to thank and recognize all volunteer coaches and parents who helped facilitate the sports season. It is because of their commitment to the program that we are able to develop and enhance young lives for the better through sport.