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FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Fort Rucker Youth Sports program is in dire need of volunteer coaches as it looks to start up team sports again in late August.

With the soccer; flag football; volleyball; and ready, set, run seasons all looking to start in late August, now is the time for people to begin the process of becoming coaches, according to Randy Tolison, youth sports and fitness director.

Demand regularly exceeds supply when it comes to coaches for youth sports, and a shortage of coaches can result in fewer teams being fielded, fewer youth able to take advantage of the program and even less playing time for children who are on teams, he said.

“Sometimes we get started in the season and we just don’t have enough coaches,” Tolison said. “Then we pick up one or two along the way, but by the time we get their background checks cleared, we’re halfway through the season. We encourage all prospective coaches to get in contact with me now, so I can get the information on what they need to do to them so they’re ready to go before the season starts.”

The workload of being a youth sports team coach is heavily frontloaded, but the rewards are great once the season starts and beyond, according to Tolison. Coaches will need to get a background check completed through child and youth services, conduct some training online on general and sport-specific coaching through the National Alliance of Youth Sports.

“The starting part is a little bit intense as far as getting the training and background check done – that is the hardest part,” he said. “Once the season starts, we give you a practice schedule, a game schedule, rosters – all you have to do is contact the players and tell them when and where practice will be held.”

The rewards include watching children develop, impacting that development and helping to provide a valuable experience for the youth of the Fort Rucker community, Tolison added.

“The value of volunteer coaches is indescribable,” he said. “Our youth would not be able to play if we didn’t have volunteer coaches. We want every child to have this experience, but unfortunately, sometimes we come up short on coaches and we end up having to put too many youth on one team – that makes it a burden for the coach and the kids because it cuts into their playing time.”

Prospective coaches don’t need to be an expert in their chosen sports, Tolison said.

“If they think they’re not knowledgeable enough about a sport, there’s no need to worry,” he said. “All of our coaches are certified through the NAYS. They do their training through NAYS online – orientation to coaching, coaching of a specific sport and also concussion training. Still, some people may think, ‘I just don’t know if I can do it.’ Well, we have staff that can go out and give them a boost, and maybe get them some one-on-one training as to what they can and can’t do, and what they should and shouldn’t do. Our coaches are one of the most valuable contributors to our program other than the kids themselves, but we can’t have the kids if we don’t have the coaches.”

People interested in helping Fort Rucker youth by becoming a volunteer sports coach should get in touch with Tolison as soon as they can. He can be reached at 334-255-2254 or 334-379-1355, or by visiting youth sports in Bldg. 8950 on Seventh Avenue.