A variety of programs stress the experience of sports over winning or losing.
Back in 1990, Huntersville had a modest population of 3,000 - and a proportionally modest youth sports program. Nearly 20 years later, the town's population has grown to 45,000, and its youth sports programs have blossomed along with it.
"When there is tremendous growth in a community, sometimes the quantity of the programs increase without increasing the quality, but we have increased the quantity while I think improving on the quality, too," says Dave White, athletic coordinator for the Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department (HPRD) and a certified youth sports administrator. "We continue to get participants to come back season after season, and they say they really enjoy our programs."
"What an honor for our town to be recipients of this award," adds Mayor Jill Swain. "I cannot say, however, that I am surprised. Huntersville's commitment to our youth, in education, health and athletics, cannot be questioned. This award reflects not only on our staff, but on our citizens for their involvement and their desire for top-quality programming for our kids."
Last year, the Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department offered more than 170 programs and special events to more than 30,000 participants. These ranged from girls' volleyball and teen adventure camps to after-school enrichment activities and Start Smart Sports Development Programs (gross-motor-skills development activities for toddlers developed by NAYS). To ensure the safety of all participants, HPRD coaches are trained and certified through the NAYS National Youth Sports Coaches Association training program and subjected to criminal background checks. Facility supervisors are regularly present at practices and games, as well as staff members who are certified in CPR and first aid.
HPRD's philosophy includes striving to provide a healthy environment in which young athletes can learn the sport of their choice, develop skills, learn the value of teamwork and, most importantly, have fun. It holds that fair play and good sportsmanship must be foremost in all youth sports experiences and that all participants must be courteous and positive toward players, coaches and officials.
"It is necessary to provide a positive experience, whether the team wins or loses, because they will carry that experience for the rest of their lives," White says. "At the end of the day, if the participants had fun, made a new friend and learned a little more about their favorite sport, then that is a win in our scorebook."