Those of us who live in the northwestern part of Cabarrus County are very lucky: Right in our neighborhood we have the Odell Recreation Association.
It is the largest youth sports organization in the county. No matter what your child has an interest in - whether it is baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball or cheerleading - there is a team or squad available to them.
Drive past Cox Mill Elementary School on a Saturday morning, and the parking lot looks more like Concord Mills mall at Christmas time. Those are the cars of all the dedicated parents who spend their weekends shuttling their children around so they can learn not only how to play a sport but also teamwork, respect, sportsmanship, how to follow rules and other important life lessons.
This valuable community organization could not function, however, without the many volunteers, especially the board members, who tirelessly make sure everything from the concession stand to the umpires' calls function smoothly.
Jason Salter, board president of the association, explained how he first got involved 11 years ago: "My daughter was in kindergarten and played soccer, basketball and tee ball," he said.
Now in high school, his daughter is still very active in sports with the Cox Mill High School Varsity Cheer Squad. And Salter's coaching days are not over yet, either; his sons, ages 8 and 10, keep him busy as they play baseball, basketball and soccer.
"One may never know what a child's family, financial or school situation is like, but it is our responsibility to make sure each child understands the fundamentals of the sport being played and, most importantly, (has) fun," Salter said, fondly remembering his days of playing in an Odell Rec league when he was a kid himself.
"The greatest thing for me, and nothing more heartwarming, is the opportunity to see a child you have coached get their first hit, catch their first pop fly, score their first goal or basket," he said. "The smile on their faces once they accomplish that is unforgettable. The words 'Coach Jason, I did it!' never sounded so good."
For more information about the Odell Recreation Association, visit www.odellsports.com.
Basketball season will start soon, and registration is under way at the following dates and times:
Oct. 18 and 20, 6-7:30 p.m., Cox Mill Elementary fields (pavilion).
Oct. 22, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Dick's Sporting Goods, Afton Ridge shopping center, off Kannapolis Parkway.