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Arts and Enrichment

Batter Up!

Making the Most of Summer Sports

May 01, 2010
Shhh. Do you hear it? It's the sound of tennis shoes lacing up, baseball gloves catching fly balls, water skis gliding on water. It's the sweet sound of summer sports.

Or, more importantly, it's the sweet sound of opportunity for parents to encourage their Kids to get up, get out and get moving.

"The biggest thing for young kids is to get active and to start them on a lifetime of physical fitness and healthy activity. Studies have shown, and we know this, that the kids who get active and get fit when they are young generally tend to stick with it throughout their life," says Matt Reiswerg, marketing manager for IUPUI Sport Complex.

Fortunately for Indianapolis youth, the top-notch IUPUI Sport Complex in downtown Indianapolis offers a good variety of fitness outlets via day camps for those eyeing summer sport action. The organization offers week-long soccer, lacrosse, swimming, diving, and track and field camps, in addition to two-week tennis camps for kids 7 to 18.

The IUPUI Sport Complex also has a popular day camp for children 5 to 12 that allows kids to experience many different activities in a non-competitive environment.

On the flip side, the facility's sports camps are more intense and competitive. Coached by elite-level staff, Reiswerg says the sports camps offer that next level of training for kids focused on a particular sport. "They are for people committed to a particular sport and ready to take a leap forward."

If America's favorite pastime is also your child's, then consider Little League, which after all is practically synonymous with summer sports.

Little League is for boys and girls ages 4 to 18 and like many team sports is a great way for kids, through team play, to learn how to interact with their peers and communicate with adults in addition to good sportsmanship, safety and the game of baseball or softball itself.

"The best way for parents to support their child in Little League is to support the organization and teach their child good sportsmanship," says Derek Lisby, district administrator for Indiana District 7. He feels the best way parents can support the organization is to volunteer. And the opportunities run the gamut from volunteering as a concession worker, groundskeeper, manager, coach, league board member, umpire, you name it.

The YMCA is another popular option for many area families seeking a physical outlet over the summer. Though the activities vary branch to branch, kids ages 3 to 16 can enroll in summer basketball leagues, t-ball and baseball, soccer, volleyball and more including over 30 types of sports camps. The YMCA also offers a great variety of year-round sports like dance, martial arts, gymnastics and tumbling through which kids can take advantage of summer sessions that tend to last about six weeks.

"We are that good place where you begin and learn about teamwork and focus on the core values of the Y - caring, honesty, respect and responsibility - and how that applies to sports," says Nancy Short, associate vice president for youth and team development for the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis. Though the YMCA does not focus on competition in the same vein as say a travel baseball team or even The IUPUI Sports Complex, the organization does offer an outlet for competition by creating travel leagues that play other branches throughout the city. "It's a fun way to bring those older kids together who still want the YMCA philosophy and mission of sports."

Regardless of how your child comes to a summer sport, whether through an existing passion or desire to try out a variety of sports, it's important parents work to keep the sport what it is: play. In other words, keep it fun.

Joy Fawcett, three-time Olympic medalist, World Cup champion and soccer mom to three girls, was recently in town and has thoughts for parents of young athletes, "The biggest thing for parents is just to listen to their child. Listen to what they have to say after a game. As a parent we want to evaluate the game and go over it and talk about it. A lot of kids don't enjoy that, especially if they had a bad game." This advice applies to all levels of play and may be the secret to keeping kids on the field and off the couch.

Her recommendations to parents are basic: ask simple questions about the game and focus on your child's effort and accomplishments during the game rather than the final score. "A lot of parents want to focus on the score and end up putting a lot of pressure on kids whether they know it or not. We want kids to feel good about sports and athletics and to stay in the game," she says.

It sounds simple enough. So get out and enjoy the summer through sports. Batter up!

Carrie Bishop is a freelance writer and mother of two young sons, whose daily antics inspire her work and her life.

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Basketball Star Eric Gordon, JCC Host Specialty Camp

If you want to play your best, then learn from the best. Young basketball enthusiasts will have the opportunity to do just that this summer at the Arthur M. Glick JCC thanks to Eric Gordon, LA Clippers star and homegrown Hoosier.

This will be the second year running for JCC to host Eric Gordon's All Star Camp for boys and girls, ages 6 - 15.

"I've been living right next door [to the JCC] almost my whole life and that's one of the reasons why I got started playing," says Gordon, who grew up participating in the JCC's youth basketball leagues. His three-day specialty camp is one way he is giving back to community who helped raise him.

For three days, June 2 - 4, area youth can join Gordon for morning drills and scrimmages. Campers' afternoons will be spent working on shooting, ball-handling, agility and teamwork.

Gordon describes the camp as both a fun and competitive opportunity for area kids to learn how to play and improve their basketball game.

In addition, each day will include an hour with Christopher Thomas, co-founder and director of 100% Hoops, the basketball training program Gordon has used throughout his career. Thomas will run players through drills to increase flexibility, functional movement and overall athletic ability.

Eric Gordon's All Star Camp is one of several specialty camps offered at the JCC this summer. Camps including baseball, equestrian, fencing, golf, soccer, tennis and other sports and activities are taught by experienced instructors who focus on skill development, teamwork, creativity and fun.

Tags: Enrichment, Kids

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