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According to the Aspen Institute, active kids are more likely to perform better in school, are more likely to attend college, tend to earn higher salaries and have lower health costs over their lifetime. Community recreation sports staff, coaches and volunteers all share a singular vision of helping youth reach their full potential by creating a healthy outlet for youth in the community.

According to Monica Brown, the regional sports director for the Finley, Kerr and Knightdale YMCA locations in Raleigh, North Carolina, basketball is the most popular competitive youth sport.

This could be attributed to basketball having the option to be played by all genders. Closely behind basketball are soccer, volleyball, baseball and tennis — all of which are offered at the YMCAs of the Triangle.

“Basketball is always popular amongst our youth sports programs,” said Brown. “That may be attributed to it being popular across the state, as the kids normally grow up to play at the high school level.”

While these sports will usually stand the test of time and consistently bring in high numbers of participation, it is also important to keep your local community’s interests in mind. For example, running is a popular hobby in Raleigh, so one youth sport option is to train for youth triathlons.

“We see a large number of kids becoming involved in the running community because their family or friends were,” said Brown. “We thought it was important we give them an outlet for this and began offering triathlons for youth, ages six to 14, with course lengths determined by age.”

Just as YMCAs of the Triangles have catered to the running community in Raleigh, it is important for other community recreation centers to keep in mind what activities are popular to its community and cater to that.

For instance, lacrosse is a popular sport in the Denver, Colorado area, so the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver hosts lacrosse clinics for their youth. In Texas, where football is king, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas offers football and flag football at each of its 13 locations throughout the year.

Consider the sports offered at your community recreation center and evaluate if there is more that need to be added to cater to your youth demographic. Alternatively, is there a sport you are dedicating volunteers and staff to that could be removed to make room for an addition?


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