Alright, let’s have a show of hands. How many of us played YMCA sports when we were kids?
I did. My sister did. Most of my friends and family did. The sports program at the YMCA was a large part of my childhood. And while I never excelled at either soccer or basketball, I did learn how to work as a team and how to win and lose gracefully.
Recently, I spoke with Danny Clemons, Senior Executive Director of Sports & Innovation at the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth. We were supposed to be talking about spring and summer sports sign-ups (and you can find that at the end of this article!), our conversation focused more on how playing sports through the YMCA helps a child grow.
“Life can’t be all about winning,” Danny said. “These kids need to learn how to win appropriately and lose gracefully.”
Much has been made recently about how children are so coddled that they no longer know how to fail. Of course, we want our children to have better lives than we have, but by removing every obstacle in a child’s life, we rob them of the opportunity to learn through losing. And if a kid only wins, they lack the empathy to win gracefully.
“The YMCA is all about building confidence as well as building skills,” Danny said. “We offer the opportunity for kids to experiment with different sports while they learn and grow.”
Remember how good it felt to kick that winning goal or grab that rebound that turned the game around? And remember how a pat on the back from the coach or a hug from a teammate could dry your tears when you missed a pitch or a save? That’s what YMCA sports are all about.
Every child who plays YMCA sports takes this pledge:
“Win or lose, I pledge before God to do my best; to be a team player; to respect my opponents, teammates, and officials; and to improve myself in spirit, mind, and body.”
While many kiddos who play YMCA sports do not choose to continue with the program, the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth now offers summer sports camps for those who want to go all in on a particular sport. These five-day camps offer a more intensive focus on developing skills for older children.
Danny said, “When we have the kids for three hours every day, we can integrate confidence work, team building work as well as working on speed and agility. We’re still helping them grow and learn through sport while really drilling down into specific skills.”
So, are you ready to sign up your kiddos? Here are all the details:
- Soccer – February 11
- Volleyball – February 18
- Football – May 5
- Baseball – May 5
At every location, registration is $85 for YMCA members and $145 for non-members. Financial assistance is available and is very easy. Simply walk into any YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth location and show proof that your child qualifies for free or reduced school lunches, and you automatically get half off the registration. That’s it. (“We don’t like paperwork any more than you do,” Danny confided.”)
To start your child’s journey in YMCA sports, click here.
If you want to volunteer to be a coach, congratulations! The YMCA welcomes you. All coaches undergo an extensive background check and are assigned to a team. They are provided with what Danny calls “How to Coach 101.”
“A lot of people come into coaching remembering drills and skills they learned when they played high school or college sports,” Danny said. “We give them guidelines as to where these kids are developmentally. And don’t worry, while being a coach may seem scary, you’re probably better than the six-year-olds you’re coaching. You just have to stay one lesson ahead of them!”
Danny continued, ” At the end of the day, it’s not about having a coach who’s the most technically proficient. It’s about being the coach who shows up every time and demonstrates how to be kind. It’s not about soccer. It’s about building better small human beings.”
If you’re interested in being a volunteer coach, click here.
If you have more questions about YMCA sports or the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth in general, click here.