Whenever there’s a youth sports activity taking place at MacDill Air Force Base Youth Programs in Florida, Jonathon Washington will likely be involved.
The single parent of a teenage daughter and pre-teen son, he tirelessly gives his time to help children and the sports programs any way he can, all while serving on active duty.
He is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Youth Sports Parent of the Year Award, which is annually presented by the National Alliance for Youth Sports to an individual who best exemplifies the NAYS Code of Ethics for Parents, founded on tenets like placing the emotional and physical well-being of children ahead of a personal desire to win, encouraging a playing environment of good sportsmanship and supporting the coaches and officials of the program.
Washington received his award in Orlando during a special session that kicked off the 16th annual Youth Sports Congress.
“Being out there with my kids and being able to help out the base community with whatever is needed is so rewarding,” Washington says. “To be selected from so many people is humbling and I’m grateful. There are a lot of people out there doing a lot of good stuff.”
He heads that list of great people doing great things.
He volunteers to help prepare and maintain the base’s soccer, flag football and baseball fields and he served as the soccer commissioner this past season for the program’s 200 participants.
Plus, he’s always lending a hand at the base’s Youth Center, where he assists with daily tasks, speaks with youth and even is often found sticking around for hours playing games with the children there.
“Growing up I had a lot of people who put in a lot of time and a lot of effort,” Washington recalls. “So, I look at it that this is my community and I have an opportunity to give back, so I am grateful for that.”
Washington points to communication as the key for making youth sports programs work. The better those communication lines are between coaches and parents the more likely the youngsters participating will have rewarding experiences.
Plus, he says that capitalizing on the experience of veteran coaches who can help those new to working with children sets the tone for long-running program success.
“When someone comes in the door for coaching or whatever level of involvement pair that inexperienced person with an experienced person,” Washington says. “Foster that growth and you’ll build continuity in your program.”
Washington has instilled in his children the value of helping others and being difference makers within the community, which they have embraced by visiting with the elderly, reading to young kids and participating in clean-up projects.
“I get one chance at being a dad to my kids and being able to make an impact in the community,” Washington says.
He’s clearly making the most of that chance – and his children and so many others in the community are reaping the benefits.Parent of Year
National Alliance for Youth Sports, Inc
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West Palm Beach, Florida 33411
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