When it comes to providing high-quality youth sports programming that kids will remember for a lifetime, the staff at Naval Station Rota Spain Youth Sports and Fitness Program does it as well as anyone.

Committed to helping children embrace healthy activities and lead active lives, the staff consistently rolls out fun and innovative programs, which helped it earn the prestigious Excellence in Youth Sports Award. The Excellence Awards, created by Athletic Business Magazine and the National Alliance for Youth Sports, recognize programs doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities that focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants.

There are plenty of opportunities for kids to play team sports like soccer, flag football, lacrosse, basketball, softball and baseball.

Plus, they get to participate in 3k and 1k fun fitness runs, and even mini triathlons.

“Even though the distances are not really difficult it does push the children to test their ability and it’s growing every year,” says Jeff Shelton, a Recreation Specialist at the Naval Station Rota Spain Youth Sports and Fitness Program and a Certified Youth Sports Administrator (CYSA). “The community asked for it and we brought it in slowly from a biathlon in 2012 to the triathlon of the last three years. Although this event is for the kids the parents are actively engaging in activities that push these young athletes to the limit. Together we are pushing for a healthier Rota community.”

During the summer there is something for everyone as the department conducts 11 camps for the kids.

And the Start Smart Sports Development program that it conducts, which is a program of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, is incredibly popular at the base as parents get to participate alongside their child to help them learn basic skills and fundamentals that helps pave the way for a smooth transition into organized sports.  

“Sharing sports with your kids is something special,” Shelton says. “This program gives all parents a chance to build a sports relationship early. If a child cannot do basic movements we can sometimes spot physical or learning difficulties. It allows the parents to gauge the listening skills of their children and can relate it to any learning difficulties. After the fourth week most of the kids are ready to listen to a coach’s instruction and this prepares kids for league play at the 5, 6 and 7 age groups. Start Smart is very instrumental in teaching the foundation of league play to players and parents.”

The hard work the volunteer coaches put in with all the programs doesn’t go unnoticed, either. The staff holds a bi-annual dinner where it prepares homemade meals for the coaches and they receive individual and detailed Letters of Appreciation, along with a special gift to remember their experience with the program. One coach is also selected as its Coach of the Year and is acknowledged by the base commander at the season opener for the baseball program.

The Naval Station Rota Spain Youth Sports and Fitness Program provides great opportunities for children; it features outstanding volunteers; and it has a staff clearly dedicated to impacting young lives. It received the Excellence in Youth Sports Award on Nov. 18 in Orlando, Fla., during the annual Youth Sports Congress that is held in conjunction with the Athletic Business Show.

Excellence Award Fitness Fundamentals

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