Despite being a staff of two, MCCS Cherry Point (N.C.) Youth Sports believes that they are in a critical position to have an impact on changing the current youth sports landscape into a more child-friendly environment. They want to see an environment that stresses all that is good about sports, like exercise, discipline, teamwork and sportsmanship, while the win at all costs attitude is de-emphasized.
“We are passionate about having a hand in making those changes,” said David Guthrie, youth sports director at MCCS Cherry Point Youth Sports. “We know that change has to start at home.” The pillars of their youth sports program is built on teaching fundamentals, equal playing participation and promoting sportsmanship.
According to Guthrie, one of their greatest challenges comes from leagues outside of their community. “There are almost always sportsmanship issues during those games,” he said.
One solution may be to make the outside leagues aware of the education programs available to them. “In order to deal with the issues associated with teams that are not ours, our goal for this coming year is to work with their parent organizations and encourage them to require parent training, such as PAYS,” said Guthrie.
The Parents Association for Youth Sports (PAYS) is a program offered by the National Alliance for Youth Sports to give parents the information they need to resolve conflict and communicate clearly with their child and coaches.
“At the very least, we want to insist that they require their parents to sign a code of ethics pledge,” Guthrie added.
Parents at Cherry Point are required to attend an orientation that emphasizes sportsmanship and their role in the youth sports program in order for their child to participate in the program. “Our parents support what we are trying to do wholeheartedly which makes our jobs so much easier,” said Guthrie.
In addition, Cherry Point also requires their coaches to complete training through the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA).
“Together with coaches who are good role models, parents are an effective tool for us as we strive to promote good sportsmanship,” Guthrie said.
Cherry Point believes that they, like all military bases, are in a special position to train a generation of youth, volunteers and parents on what makes an appropriate youth sports environment. “Because our patrons are military folks and will be traveling to many other locations around the country and world, they become ‘missionaries’ for the proper way to do things in youth sports,” Guthrie explains.
MCCS Cherry Point Youth Sports received the 2011 Excellence in Youth Sports Award. Developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) and Athletic Business magazine, the award recognizes five youth sports programs each year for doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants, including children, parents and coaches. It was presented during the annual Youth Sports Congress in Orlando, Fla.
“I have been in the youth sports field – both professionally and as a volunteer – for more than 40 years and to be recognized with such a prestigious award, obviously, there was a lot of excitement and joy on my part,” said Guthrie. “What an honor it is to have other professionals affirm what we are trying to do here with our programs.”