The YMCA of Greater Brandywine believes that team sports are an important way to help kids develop, not only physically, but in learning important life skills, like leadership, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and responsibility.
However, a report by the Aspen Institute indicated 70 percent of kids drop out of sports by the age of 13 because they say it’s not fun anymore.
To help combat that trend, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, in conjunction with director Chris Logan Harley and Uptown! Entertainment Alliance, put together a series of videos – entitled, “Don’t Spoil the Fun!” – to highlight the importance of keeping fun in youth sports leagues.
The video series highlights some of the ways parents can have an impact on their child’s sports experiences by their own negative behavior, with too much emphasis on competition and winning.
“These videos are so cleverly done and with humorous overtones; they really get parents thinking about their actions and the impact even little things have on their kids,” said Andi Youndt, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “Keeping kids playing will help them stay healthy, help them learn how to play with others, and become good citizens. The lessons and habits they learn now will stay with them for life.”
YMCA parent Kelly Richardson shares the story of her 18-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, who started playing basketball at the YMCA when she was in sixth grade.
“She played for a couple of sessions with different coaches and it was instant love, not instant player,” Richardson said. “Thankfully, she played for coaches who remembered they were young and fun was important.”
Mackenzie’s love for the game grew into a passion as she is still playing years later, and will be joining Immaculata University’s basketball team in the fall.
As Richardson continues to remind her daughter, and YMCA coaches everywhere repeat to their players, “Work hard. Have fun.”
Todd Kinkus has been coaching youth sports at the YMCA for more than seven years.
“Compared to lots of other sports teams, the Y’s youth sports league program is more of a community experience,” he said. “It offers good examples for kids, and it provides a good foundation for sports – not just in terms of winning and losing – but for the foundation of the player. I really enjoy the chance to see each child’s growth when that light bulb goes off.
“I’m excited when I hear from a parent that their child is having a great time and loving playing. That’s probably the biggest thing I get out of being a coach – knowing that the child and their parents have a great experience and want to come back.”
Registration is under way for spring youth sports leagues through Sunday, March 31. Options available at most branches include soccer (ages 3-12), basketball (ages 3-15), t-ball (ages 4-5) and coach pitch baseball (ages 6-7). Click here for more information and to register.