Friday, November 16, 2012
2012 Excellence in Youth Sports Award Winner: Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst (N.J.) Youth Sports & Fitness Program
As part of the only tri-service joint base in the United States serving families from the Air Force, Navy and Army, the Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst Youth Sports & Fitness Program in New Jersey is in a unique situation to take the best aspects of each branch’s offerings to create one outstanding youth sports program.
While this presents many challenges, it also offers the program rewarding opportunities to meet the needs of their patrons — the men and women that serve in the U.S. military and their families.
For their ongoing efforts to provide a safe, fun-filled and nurturing environment for all youths, Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst Youth Sports & Fitness Program was selected as a winner of the 2012 Excellence in Youth Sports Award. The award was developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine to recognize programs conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing positive experiences for all participants, including children, parents and coaches.
According to Donald Russoniello, director of the Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst Youth Sports & Fitness Program, one benefit of being a tri-service joint base is the ability to expand the number of programs offered to reach every child. In addition to team sports, the program offers individual sports such as golf and track, as well as instructional classes such as karate, to encourage everyone to be active. It even offers a gym class for home-schooled children ages six to 18 that runs for nine months during the school year. Last year, more than 30 children participated.
“Most of the home-schooled children don’t get the benefit of physical education programs that are offered in the schools,” says Russoniello. “Giving them this class helps them stay fit and play the same sports.”
Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst Youth Sports & Fitness Program also benefited from an increase in the number of volunteers after the bases merged. Accountability is a constant theme volunteers hear during the classes held to prepare them for the important role they play in the program and in each youngster’s experience. Coaches are trained through the National Youth Sports Coaches Association on such topics as teaching and communication, working with parents, and preventing abuse and injuries.
NYSCA coach training is supplemented with a Character Counts programs to help coaches teach their young athletes how to play with respect and fairness, while coaches learn how to be better role models along the way. Says Russoniello, “If coaches emulate these values, their players will follow their lead and understand a good athlete is a combination of skills and good character.”
Story written by Linda Alberts, public relations coordinator for the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
The five winners of the 2012 Excellence in Youth Sports Awards, sponsored by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, are being announced in this space over the next five days. The awards will be presented to program administrators at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in New Orleans on Friday, Nov. 30.