A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Good Sports: Getting kids in the game
By Ker’Shyra Myrick
How many kids do you know who would love the opportunity to play youth sports, but do not have the resources to do so? Or the equipment to play with?
Schools are cutting Physical Education, lower income students are being left out of youth sports, and many youth sports programs are being shut down simply because there is no funding.
Sadly, this has become all-too-common in today’s society.
Fortunately, there are two women who are fighting for change.
When Melissa Harper and Christy Keswick started Good Sports, all they had was a PowerPoint presentation and determination.
“Our first meeting was with the Vice President of Marketing at Spalding,” says Melissa Harper, founding member and CEO of Good Sports. “We went in to his office with our PowerPoint presentation and asked for a donation of 500 basketballs.”
This was back in 2003. Since then, Harper and her friend and business partner Keswick, founding member and COO of Good Sports, have provided more than $16 million in equipment to 2,000 youth programs, impacting millions of kids nationwide.
Their first distribution was to youth sports organizations in Boston, and now in their 13th year of business, they have expanded their outreach efforts to every state in the U.S.
Good Sports’ mission is to “give all kids the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity by providing equipment, apparel and footwear to those most in need.”
“Over the years we have been asked to provide a lot of equipment to kids and various youth sports organizations,” says Harper. “It’s hard to say ‘no,’ but we know all of the requests we receive cannot be fulfilled. We try to be the best in what we do instead of trying to do it all.”
The Good Sports team consist of former athletes, and a slew of well-known supporters, including Nike, Wilson, Dr. Pepper and Hilton, to name a few.
“Our corporate partners are able to bring powerful assets to our company which is incredibly important to our goal,” Harper says. “Besides monetary support, they also provide volunteers who bring awareness to our cause.”
Sports Ambassadors like Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Super Bowl Champion Rob Gronkowski and Olympic Gold Medalist Kristine Lilly are only a few of the professional athletes who have contributed to Good Sports’ mission to get kids in the game.
Cost is the biggest issue affecting youth sports programs, which is most common in high need communities. Some programs are increasing fees or turning away kids because they cannot afford to pay for the equipment.
Besides cost, many youth facilities are in bad condition overall. Some do not even have facilities at all. For those with structural issues, Good Sports is there to help by providing everything from basketballs to jump ropes.
“We want kids to play the sport of their choice, and have passion for that sport,” says Harper. “We want to make sure they have the equipment they need to play.”
A child’s first coach wields enormous influence and can be the difference between a child loving – or leaving – the sport. Just ask Prim Siripipat, whose love of tennis was forged by an incredibly supportive and caring coach
She excelled on the basketball courts and soccer fields of her youth, and the lessons learned all the way through her collegiate playing days are used often in the high-pressure world of live television
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