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Youth sports: Registration open, program seeks coaches

Children participate in youth basketball at the youth center during a game last year. (Photo by Tori Evans)

Children participate in youth basketball at the youth center during a game last year. (Photo by Tori Evans)

Published: February 12, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 12, 2016) -- If parents are looking for a physical outlet for their children and something they can also get involved in, registration is ongoing for Fort Rucker Youth Sports to help promote healthy lifestyles and offer friendly competition.

Registration for tee ball, baseball, softball and jump roping is open through Feb. 29, with evaluations, if necessary, for 9-year-olds and older beginning March 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the youth baseball fields located behind the commissary. These activities provide youth with a great opportunity to stay fit and healthy, according to Randy Tolison, Fort Rucker Youth Sports director.

“Baseball is a competitive team sport and children don’t have to be an expert – they just have to come and get some experience and have fun playing baseball,” he said.

Baseball and softball registration is $45 per child, and tee ball registration is $20 per child. Teams will be sorted by age groups, which are co-ed 5-6 year-old tee ball, co-ed 7-8 year-old machine pitch, co-ed 9-10 year-old Dixie Minors, co-ed 11-12 year-old Dixie Ozone, girls 9-12 year-old Dixie Ponytails and girls 13-15 year-old Dixie Bells.

All children who wish to participate in youth sports programs must meet age requirements, and have a current sports physical and a valid child, youth and school services registration.

For more information on registration, call parent central services at 255-9638.

Coaches are also needed for baseball, tee ball and softball, and any who are interested in coaching should contact Jackie Johnson, youth sports clinician at 255-0950, or call 255-2257 or 255-2254. All coaches must go through the same training and background check process as volunteers, added Tolison.

 “We’re looking for people who have the time, quality of work, responsibility, kindness and patience to teach our youth the fundamentals of youth sports,” said Johnson.  “It’s important that the volunteers are excited and engaging with the children, because when the coaches are excited about what they’re doing, then the children are more likely to have fun and participate.”

Tolison wants to make sure that people understand that coaching is mostly about the commitment to the children.

“We really like to emphasize to our coaches that if they step in to fill this responsibility, those kids are depending and counting on them to be there for them,” he said. “The teams stay pretty active and can practice anywhere from two to three times a week prior to the season, and when the season starts, teams will normally practice once a week and play twice a week.”

Safety is also a major concern, and volunteers are properly vetted and trained to take on the responsibility. No volunteers will be turned away, said Johnson, but people interested must submit a background packet, which can be filled out at Parent Central Services in Bldg. 5700, Rm. 193, and attend a mandatory training session.

The training sessions last about three and a half to four hours, but if people aren’t able to attend the session in one sitting, accommodations can be made, added Johnson.

“We understand that people are busy, and a lot of people find it difficult to come and do the training all at once,” said the youth sports clinician. “We will work with them and break up the sessions into times that will accommodate them, but either way, the training must be completed.”

During the training, volunteers will get an introduction to coaching, training in coaching the specific sport they are volunteering for, concussion training, and will watch a parent video and complete face-to-face child abuse training with an Army Family Advocacy Program manager.  This training also gives the opportunity for our volunteers to ask questions about child abuse, added Tolison.

“I’ve had some coaches tell me that the greatest thing about coaching is when a kid comes up to you outside of practice or games and just gets so excited to see you,” he said. “The rewards may not be monetary, but it’s one of those intangible moments that is so rewarding.”

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