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Youth sports programs are a great way to teach kids morals, help them improve their athletic skills and make new friends. One of the more popular youth sports across the country, for boys and girls, is basketball.

Nicole Brogden, the youth program director at the Downtown Family YMCA of YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga, works directly with the youth leagues to ensure each kid and family has a successful and fun time at its event.

In Brogden’s two-year stint as the director she has learned to rely on the resources of the YMCAs around her. As everyone in the industry wants to give kids the best experience possible, most are more than willing to share best practices and tips with one another.

“I have learned from colleagues to look at how their leagues are structured and try to follow the tried and true model,” said Brogden. “I quickly learned how important it is to create good relationships with the schools in your area as they will be a great pool for program participants — along with participants in your YMCA camp programs, home school students and if you have a child care facility as well.”

Brogden also explained they like to make a quick turnaround time from signups to scheduling games to ensure families have time to make accommodations for the games and practices, so kids aren’t having to frequently miss. “We try to have eight to ten kids per team, but we will try to accommodate as many requests for specific teams as we can,” said Brogden.

Something the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga also keeps in mind when structuring teams is to guarantee the playing field is equal, meaning not all the best players are placed on one team.

“Most children come as free agents, not as a structured team already, so you are trying to match teams based on equal playing,” said Brogden. “You want to make sure there’s not a team that has all aggressive players, or a team with all newbies. You want it to all be equal.”

Each coach of the youth sports program at the Downtown Family YMCA of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga is a volunteer from the community. Brogden explained they like to give as much support or training for the volunteers each year.

“Some of our coaches are parents, but some are just people who have a heart for coaching,” said Brogden. “We do some child abuse prevention training and go over things people should keep in mind when coaching kids. We also try to go over some general basketball information to help our coaches be prepared to teach our players.”

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