With the warm weather approaching, more and more people are getting out and active, including the youth on Fort Huachuca.
â€œThe nice thing about Arizona is they can play sports year round. We can utilize the environment to get the kids moving again,â€ said Program Associate Erin Schnitger, Youth Sports and Fitness.
â€œIt is so important nowadays to get kids excited to move again; they have absolutely forgotten what their bodies are for, so this is a great way. Sports teach so much more than just athleticism; they teach competitive nature, sportsmanship, friendships, discipline and responsibility, so I think it is just one of the best ways to get all those values instilled in your children young, and most importantly get them to move again â€” out of the house away from the computers, cell phones and the video games and get out and move.â€
â€œI think it is great. He has been excited and ready to play,â€ said one dad, 1st Sgt. Jimmie Sanders, of son Brody, 3.
â€œThe Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate runs four full seasons each year. We start off with soccer in August, then basketball. Coinciding with that is wrestling and cheerleading, then after that we do a partnership with Little League so baseball, then filter right back around again to soccer,â€œ said Schnitger.
The program associate said all of those seasons overlap. Theyâ€™d like to add more sports but those are the programâ€™s main sports. â€œAlong with all of those we also do outreach programs in the schools and in the centers,â€ she said.
FMWR also offers a mini sports program where they teach 3- and 4-year-olds the basics of four different sports, quarterly, throughout the year. â€œWe also do fitness and nutrition programs at the schools and centers as well, so we â€¦ have our hands in everything with youth ages 3 to about 18,â€ Schnitger added.
FMWR will start implementing more programs at the day care and after-school centers, teaching them sports, fitness and nutritional basics. They will also offer some seminars.
â€œThe schools have separate sports teams but we offer something similar to a rec(reation) league which is more a post league so itâ€™s the fundamental classes. We [also] partner with the Sierra Vista city leagues because we are such a small post. The nice thing is normally they end about the time that ours begin so the kids can participate in more than one program, said Program Associate Tammy Fales, Youth Sports and Fitness.
â€œSome of the larger posts like Fort Lewis, (Wash.), that are huge can have their own self-sufficient leagues but because we are so small, we partner with Sierra Vista in order to have enough competitive spirit to get a whole league going,â€ Schnitger said.
The numbers for the teams vary, but typically there are 200 to 250 youth enrolled, depending on the sport. â€œWe really get to see the same names over and over again. Once they get involved in our program they kind of stick around for a while which is nice,â€ Schnitger added.
â€œWe get to see the kids grow up,â€ Fales said. Anyone with an affiliation with the fort can register through the CYS office. Contractors, Department of Defense civilians, active duty and retired are all able to register their children with CYS.
â€œThey do have to pay per sport which is not designated by us. It comes down from region what we have to charge per sport, and all of our sports right now are 40 dollars except for Little League and wrestling which are 45 dollars,â€ said Fales.
â€œI think it is awesome getting all the kids out and teaching them the sport,â€ said father Nate Babb while helping his son Beckett, 3.
Right now we have the basketball season ending with tournaments going on. The kids play all season then get ranked based on their standings. Now theyâ€™re doing â€¦ a March Madness bracket, so it is fun for the kids to coincide with what they are seeing on TV. Now they are getting to do it, and they are understanding tournament structure,â€ Schnitger said.
â€œThis program is good for kids because it gives the kids a chance to get out and get moving and have fun and learn,â€ Fales added.
â€œI think the way we structure it is good because so many children nowadays are getting introduced to burnout so quickly. They are having five practices a week for a sport when itâ€™s just the fundamentals, and they arenâ€™t having that fun athletic spirit. The way we structure it, it gives them a good introduction,â€ Schnitger added. â€œThey meet some kids their age, and it gets them excited. And we can bring it to them now.
â€œAt the School-Age Center a few weeks ago, we had a yoga activity with 36 kids, and they had a blast. They were really receptive to it; they were challenged,â€ she said.
â€œI am learning [t-ball] with her because I didnâ€™t do this stuff as a kid,â€ said Chris Montoya who is learning the game with daughter Faith, 4.
â€œWe always, always need coaches. All of our coaches are volunteer coaches. We do get volunteers, but itâ€™s something a lot of the active duty [military] arenâ€™t really aware about.â€ Schnitger said.
â€œWe offer a free certification and all the training for coaches. Certifications are recognized on most installations; also coaches can receive volunteer service hours,â€ she explained.
â€œStop by the office to become a coach or to get a schedule.â€
Parent Central Services is where parents must register their children and can answer most questions. The next sport will be soccer in July or August. Each season lasts about three months.