The Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department has won the prestigious 2009 Excellence in Youth Sports Award, in recognition of outstanding efforts in providing top-quality sports programs for the youth in the local community.
Huntersville Parks and Recreation is only the second organization from North Carolina ever to win.
In 1990, Huntersville had a modest population of about 3,000 residents. Proportionally, the youth sports program was modest.
Nearly 20 years later, the town's population has grown to 45,000, and the youth sports programs have blossomed along with it.
"When there is tremendous growth in a community, sometimes the quantity of the programs increases without increasing the quality. But we have increased the quantity while, I think, improving on the quality, too," said Dave White, athletic coordinator for the department and a certified youth sports administrator. "We continue to get participants to come back season after season, and they say they really enjoy our programs."
Mayor Jill Swain added, "What an honor for our town to be recipients of this award! I cannot say, however, that I am surprised. Huntersville's commitment to our youth, in education, health and athletics, cannot be questioned. This award reflects not only on our staff, but on our citizens for their involvement and their desire for top-quality programming for our kids."
Last year, the department offered more than 170 programs and special events to more than 30,000 participants. They ranged from teen adventure camps and girls' volleyball to after-school enrichment activities and Start Smart Sports Development Programs (gross-motor-skills development activities for toddlers developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports).
To ensure the safety of all participants, coaches are trained and certified through the alliance's National Youth Sports Coaches Association training program and subjected to criminal background checks. Facility supervisors are regularly present at practices and games, as well as staff members certified in CPR and first aid.
The recreation department's philosophy includes striving to provide a healthy environment in which young athletes can learn the sport of their choice, develop skills, learn the value of teamwork and, most important, have fun. It holds that fair play and good sportsmanship must be foremost in all youth sports experiences and that all participants must be courteous and positive toward players, coaches and officials.
"It is necessary to provide a positive experience, whether the team wins or loses, because they will carry that experience for the rest of their lives," White said. "If the participants had fun, made a new friend and learned a little more about their favorite sport, then that is a win in our scorebook."
For more information about the National Alliance for Youth Sports or the Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department, visit www.nays .com or www.hunters ville.org .