A Decade of Excellence: Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Youth Sports

Mission accomplished: MCAGCC meets the needs of children with deployed parents.

For children living on military bases around the world, separation anxiety from loved ones can be a difficult challenge to overcome. Like many bases, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center helps youngsters deal with time apart from their parents through participation in safe and positive youth sports experiences.

MCAGCC Youth Sports provides programming on this isolated training base - located in the high desert 50 miles northeast of Palm Springs - with more than two dozen sports activities for children ages 3 to 18. Among the sports offered are track and field, baseball, golf, tennis, basketball, soccer, cheer/dance, bowling, volleyball, football, flag football and wrestling. Start Smart Sports Development Programs, which provide gross-motor-skills activities for children ages 3 to 5, also are offered.

"We are continually striving to increase the quality of life for our military families," says Joe Rosselli, MCAGCC's youth sports director. "Our program fills a void for the children of deployed Marines."

MCAGCC operates under the philosophy that sports programs should instill a positive attitude in kids while also helping them learn basic fundamental skills with confidence and a high moral standard. Its mission is to enhance the quality of life for all participants regardless of skill level, teach sportsmanship and provide organized, safe, positive and fun recreational opportunities.

To that end, MCAGCC's programs for children ages 3 to 7 are designed with an emphasis on skills development, and no scores or standings are recorded. Staff members regularly attend safety classes on issues such as heat and safe playing surfaces, all coaches must take training courses provided by the National Youth Sports Coaches Association, and all parents are required to attend educational sessions provided by the Parents Association for Youth Sports.

MCAGCC organizes activities with outside entities in order to expose children to a broad array of individuals and atmospheres. The base's children play soccer and flag football with youths from Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley, and children also have an opportunity to participate in Hershey's Track and Field and Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation track and field meets.

The youth sports staff at MCAGCC prides itself on its ability to offer quality sports programs to families at a reasonable price. Their programs cost less for parents than other local youth sports programs and are run by a qualified staff. "We are here to serve and strive to provide the best programs at the best price," Rosselli says.

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