At Fort Sill CYS Youth Sports and Fitness in Oklahoma there’s certainly something for everyone when it comes to its youth sports programming, thanks to a creative staff that continually finds ways to keep kids active, engaged and having fun.
“Our philosophy is that if you make the sport fun now at these early ages, the children will associate these activities with fun and continue to enjoy them and work hard as they mature and refine their skills,” says Kelsee Mullings, Youth Sports and Fitness Assistant Director at Fort Sill. “With our league being an educational, non-competitive league, we believe that the environment created is for optimal learning while having fun and the skills learned here will apply to all aspects of life.”
Along with offering opportunities for youngsters to participate in team sports like baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball and flag football, there are lots of other neat activities offered throughout the year. For instance, a variety of summer sports camps are conducted that are designed to teach the sport and spark an interest in the child. Camps include lacrosse, badminton, tennis, archery, inline hockey, golf, pickleball and racquetball.
The staff also offers a Speed and Agility Camp, which provides training that benefits adolescents and teaches exercises that they can do on their own time to stay active and improve their fitness levels. Middle and high school age kids can take advantage of a free nine-week weight training course, where they are shown proper gym safety, etiquette and techniques during twice-a-week sessions held at a nearby gym.
They also apply that innovative thinking in other areas. A couple times a month they visit Freedom Elementary, located on base, which has about 500 students.
“One to two times a month we take our Hop sports program there, which is a projector that puts them through various levels of activities like hip hop dance or karate,” Mullings says. “We utilize their P.E. time, allowing us to work with every grade.”
The Fort Sill staff utilizes the National Alliance for Youth Sports’ (NAYS) Rate Your Coach feature, which enables them to get feedback on coaches from the parents’ perspective; and it tracks which coaches have been trained and monitors upcoming membership expirations through the NAYS Chapter Management tool.
Along with ensuring quality coaching, the staff emphasizes good sportsmanship at all times.
“We promote athlete sportsmanship by action,” Mullings says. “If there is a situation of poor behavior during play, the staff will call a timeout and bring the players and coaches, if needed, together and have a teaching moment. These learning opportunities are about teaching them how overly aggressive play can cause injury and to focus on technique; or how verbal statements can affect the other team negatively. It is important for players to learn how to win and lose.”