MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marine Corps Community Services provide Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s children and teens with countless opportunities to learn and play.
Youth Sports is being recognized for their effort by the National Alliance for Youth’s Sports. NAYS awarded the group the Excellence in Youth Sports Award.
Youth Sports registers approximately 2,500 kids per year to participate in basketball, cheerleading, baseball, T-ball, softball, golf, football, flag football and soccer.
“Our program is an opportunity for children to gain life skills,” said Chris Alger, the sports branch head of Semper Fit. “It raises their self esteem.”
The program focuses on fun rather than competition while giving children and parents an opportunity to meet peers.
“We have such a transient community,” said Jolyne Agramonte, the Sports Activities manager with Semper Fit Sports. “This program helps establish a network of parents and volunteers to influence kids in a positive way.”
Christopher Williams, the Youth Sports manager, said the program is a good opportunity for children to interact outside of the classroom.
In the last two years, major management changes brought a different perspective to the program. They increased communication with parents and volunteers through e-mail and added information and registration packages for all sports online. They also added training for volunteers, and added on-site staff to supervise and address any issues on the field.
“When you bring in new eyes you can see the holes (in the program) better,” said Agramonte.
More changes are coming. The base’s recent construction efforts will renovate and expand the Youth Sports office, and a new sports complex is being built on Stone Street.
However, it is not buildings and fields that make up Youth Sports. The program is fueled by volunteers. More than 300 members of the Camp Lejeune community take time out of their schedule to assist the small, paid staff of Youth Sports. They coach the children and assist with administrative duties.
“Volunteers are the foundation of this program, without them we would never be able to make this program work,” said Alger. “It’s a community effort. There are a lot of things people can do; it’s not just blowing a whistle.”
Volunteers come in many forms; they are parents of children, military retirees, or young Marines looking to give back. They go through a screening process involving a national background check, training on coaching and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“We also established a parent-advisory group, their purpose is to help guide our policy,” said Alger. “They have major input because at the end of the day if we are not meeting what the community wants there is no purpose for the program.”
This is not the first of such award for Marine Corps Youth Sports. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms won the award in years past.
For more information on Youth Sports visit www.mccslejeune.com/youthsports.