2017 Excellence in Youth Sports Award Winner: City of Henderson, Parks and Rec Dep.

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When it comes to providing high-quality youth sports programs that kids will remember for a lifetime, the City of Henderson, Public Works, Parks and Recreation Department Sports Section in Nevada does it as well as anyone.

And James DiNicola, the Recreation Services Supervisor, knows as well as anyone how impactful the programs are because he’s benefited from them.

“I played youth sports in Henderson from 5 years old to high school, where my dad was able to coach me for several seasons,” DiNicola says. “After playing in college I came back to coach and work in Henderson, receiving my NAYS certification. After advancing my career, I became the Sports Supervisor, where I earned my Certified Youth Sports Administrator (CYSA) certification. I now have a 5- and 6-year-old who currently play in the Henderson youth sports leagues. Henderson sports has truly been a part of so many great memories for three generations of my family.”

DiNicola’s experiences are one of countless success stories in Henderson. 

“So many generations of families have similar experiences and these families are woven into the fabric of what the City of Henderson youth sports programs is,” DiNicola says. “That is a program where kids can be kids, get exercise, make friends, develop new skills and have long-lasting memories. Henderson’s youth sports programs strive to be excellent in every training, practice, game and culture.”

Committed to ensuring that all children are treated to rewarding experiences the staff continually reviews its programs and ways they can be enhanced. It conducts program evaluations at the end of each league season with coaches and parents. A 1 to 5 scale is used for rating the registration process and registration fees; the team balance and overall program quality; the volunteer coaches and officials; the facilities and safety of the participants; the staff and league marketing; and the overall satisfaction with the program.

“The City of Henderson youth sports program philosophy starts by following the standards set forth by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS),” DiNicola says. “These standards are used to plan, implement and produce premier programs for our residents.”

In addition to the NAYS standards the City of Henderson has incorporated its own values into its programs through STEP, which stands for Safety, Teamwork, Excellence and Professionalism.

“Providing a safe and fun environment for our players, proper training for coaches and parents, and open lines of communication between staff and league participants has created a successful youth sports program in Henderson for over two decades,” DiNicola says.

Sportsmanship is also a key ingredient that is emphasized, recognized and celebrated at every possible moment. One of many ways it does so is by presenting its Be Kind Award, which is given to those young athletes, coaches, parents and officials who go above and beyond in showing an act of kindness during the youth sports season.

To help ensure that all kids in the community have a chance to participate in its wide variety of sports programs, the City of Henderson has a Financial Assistance Program where those kids from lower income families can receive scholarships to participate. Plus, households in which more than one child signs up receive discounted registrations.

“We are continuously making improvements and adding new leagues and opportunities every chance we get,” DiNicola says. 

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