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Youth Sports Make a Comeback in Clark County

Youth Sports Make a Comeback in Clark County

Saturday afternoons at the soccer field. Early morning hockey practices. All-day swim meets. When COVID-19 hit our area last year, the drumbeat of youth sports suddenly just . . . stopped.

For months, baseball fields sat bare and volleyball courts were vacant. The cacophony of youth sports—the cheering and whoops of joy from the kids—was silent. An industry that provides so much structure and activity simply disappeared. Then programs would reopen and hope would emerge . . . only in many cases to close again.

It’s affected every age group, including youngsters for whom their first introduction to sports is through their city’s parks and recreation department programs for kids as young as four. They can learn not just the basics of a sport, but habits like exercise, sportsmanship and teamwork in a fun, non-competitive environment.

“We really understand from building a basic love of physical activity and being a healthy person, those habits are instilled at a really young age. We take a lot of pride in being a part of that for families,” David Perlick, recreation manager for Vancouver Parks and Recreation told me last fall. It’s certainly very difficult,” he said of having to shut down programs to slow the spread of COVID-19. “We talk about it every day.”

On the other end of the spectrum are high school athletes who have been training in their sports for years. Many of last year’s seniors lost their final season of eligibility in the spring. And while school districts are moving schedules to hopefully allow for competition in spring of 2021, there are no guarantees.

Read the rest of this article in the full digital issue below.

Update

  • Since this article was published, Marshall Community Center has reopened for fitness reservations. The pool remains closed at this time.
  • Also since this article was published, Vancouver Parks and Recreation has opened registration for spring soccer for ages 3.5-9.
  • Go to vanparksrec.org for the latest information on community centers and Vancouver Parks and Recreation programs.
  • Most school districts have resumed youth sports activities, with some restrictions and safety guidelines in place, and Governor Inslee recently approved spectators at outdoor events, including school and private sports. Contact your local school district for specific sports season schedules and plans.

Get in the Game: Greater Youth Sports

Excessive cost often creates a barrier to kids accessing the joy of playing sports. Greater Youth Sports Association is committed to removing those barriers by providing football, basketball and soccer experiences for kids in grades 1-5–completely free. The program was founded in Nevada, but has recently opened up right here in Clark County, Washington. Students at Minnehaha Elementary and Sarah J. Anderson Elementary are already participating, with more schools coming soon. Learn more about their mission and their programs at greateryouthsportswa.org.

Graham Kendrick lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons. He spent over 15 years working in the sports industry, and now stays involved in athletics shuttling his boys to their various practices, games and tournaments.

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