Hendricks Regional Health YMCA
[Photographer / Amy Payne]

Get Active With Hendricks Regional Health YMCA Sports Programs

Hendricks Regional Health YMCA in Avon is known for programs spanning from nutritional classes to swimming lessons. The youth sports program (including boys, girls and coed) continues to grow, and new offerings and opportunities might surprise you.

Sports activities can fall into four categories at the YMCA: classes, clinics, recreational leagues and all-city leagues – basically everything a family is looking for in one location.

A family with several children might find one child ready for the all-city league, while another is still looking for that sport they love.

The staff is dedicated to helping kids find the right sport for them, and allowing each child to develop and grow along the way. Everyone has a chance to participate.

Hendricks Regional Health YMCA“At the YMCA, we offer more of a chance for everyone to get to play and increase their skill,” said Youth Sports Director Levi Mock. “In rec leagues there’s no tryout system. We want as many kids involved as possible, and it gives them a chance to better themselves and shine.”

One way to do that is to encourage the females to give new sports or any sport a try. They’re developing opportunities the young ladies may not have thought possible through other programs.

This summer they’ll offer a coed and girls flag football program, and they are seeing a lot of success in similar offerings. They’re in their second season of cheer, and the girls basketball team went undefeated this year. The track-and-field program saw nearly 85 participants, and they also walked away with a championship trophy.

“We hope their success will drum up more participation,” said Don Casey, associate executive director. “We want to ramp up our girls participation, and we’ll offer coed or all-girls programs to see what interest we have moving forward.”

Programs typically center around ages 4 and 5, 6 through 8, and 9 through 12, and though parents can relate to spending money and time on the wrong sport at this age, the Y is working to make those decisions easier and bit clearer.

The free youth multi-sport clinics share basic skills of the game and introduce a new sport each week.

Hendricks Regional Health YMCA

“We have free-try clinics,” Mock said. “They run for a week and kids can hit multiple sports to see what’s offered here. It creates trust and discovery for the kids all at once. They might learn something about themselves, or find a sport they love that they might not have otherwise tried.”

The Y also offers developmental clinics to help kids increase skills and continue to grow in a sport they enjoy. Not only do the young athletes build athletic ability, but also confidence in themselves.

For many of the children, it may be the first time they’ve participated in a team sport.

“The growth we see in youth participating when a team sport is involved is fundamental,” Casey said. “They learn how to play with a team, display sportsmanship, and it really builds a foundation for future team programs.”

Team sports can also help children learn to control emotion, channel negative feelings in a positive way and build resilience. In addition, lifelong relationships with both coaching mentors and fellow players, and a love for a particular sport, often follow.

“Team sports create a sense of community and camaraderie,” Mock said. “Social skills are still developing at this age and it often bridges a gap. They’re developing a relationship with others, and have something in common both in the game and often outside of the game. They’ve made friends on the team and when their friend is playing again this year, they want to join them.”

Classes include swimming, taekwondo, and tumbling. Clinics in baseball, basketball, soccer, track, volleyball and, soon, flag football are offered at different times throughout the year.

Hendricks Regional Health YMCAThe YMCA offers coed recreational leagues in baseball, basketball, cheer and soccer that compete with other local teams at the campus. The Y also offers all-city leagues in basketball, track-and-field, and cross country that branch outside of Avon and compete with teams across the Indianapolis area.

After a season of all-city competition, the final tournament takes place in downtown Indianapolis, again giving kids an opportunity they may have never had before.

“These competitions give kids a chance to enjoy new environments,” Mock said. “There’s a little bit of travel there and I think it inspires them to dream bigger in a lot of ways.”

For others, just the experience is something they’ll remember forever. The cheer team, for example, begins with practices at the Y, progresses to local games, and eventually they cheer at the all-city games, giving them the ultimate experience in front of large crowds.

Of course, in keeping with the YMCA mission, the staff looks for ways to encourage physical activity, health and nutrition at every turn. Sports programs further that goal in numerous ways.

“We look at this with a 30,000-foot lens,” Casey said. “Ultimately, we’re looking at what we can do to enhance the health of our kids going forward. From a nutritional point of view, we have the opportunity to partner with Hendricks Regional Health, and look at how we can talk about some of the things we can do from a dietary standpoint – what kind of fuel do you need to participate in this sport moving forward, and things like that.”

Hendricks Regional Health YMCA

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, youths aged 6 through 17 should have at least 60 minutes of activity every day. It doesn’t have to be boring, however. Simply joining in an activity at the Y will greatly increase activity, and it will likely be fun too.

With more than 1,200 youth participating in leagues, classes and clinics combined, Casey said the Y staff members are proud of the growth in recent years.

Most importantly, they want every child to have the opportunity to participate, regardless of financial ability. If a family is challenged by cost, they want to work with you.

“We are a Y for all,” Casey said. “It’s something we’re focused on and we offer income-based discounts for members and nonmembers alike. Our annual campaign raises funds to allow us to provide some of these programs to youth at 15 to 50% off based on their parents’ income.”

Register for summer programming now, including basketball, cheer or soccer. You might even give coed flag football a try.

For more information, visit indymca.org/programs/sports.

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