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Mission and History

national alliance for youth sports nonprofit mission history


To educate, equip and empower youth sports leaders, volunteers and parents so all children can enjoy the lifelong benefits of sports.


A future where all youth sports coaches, parents, officials and administrators are educated and all children have access to safe and positive sports experiences.


"Better sports for kids, better kids for life."


Fred Engh founded the organization in 1981. He had been involved in youth sports as a coach, athletic director, sports educator and parent of seven children. Originally named the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA), the organization initially focused on educating volunteer coaches on their wide range of responsibilities and the importance of meeting the needs of every child. The program has since been transformed into the NAYS Coach Training & Membership which remains focused on educating volunteer coaches on their roles and responsibilities. To date, the NAYS Coach Training & Membership has educated more than four million member coaches worldwide.

Since volunteer coaches are only one aspect of the youth sports equation, the Board of Directors expanded the organization to form the National Alliance for Youth Sports in 1993. This expansion led to the creation of several additional membership programs for those with important roles in youth sports, including youth sports administrators, officials and parents. In addition, NAYS developed several youth development programs for children.

NAYS programs are provided at the local level through dynamic partnerships with more than 3,000 community-based organizations, which include parks and recreation departments, Boys and Girls Clubs, Police Athletic Leagues, YMCAs/YWCAs, faith-based organizations and other independent youth service groups throughout the country. NAYS also has a strong presence on U.S. military installations worldwide.



– NYSCA founded.
– Board of Directors formed.


– Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., maker of Gatorade Thirst Quenchers, sponsors NYSCA.


– DeKalb County, Georgia becomes the first to mandate that its volunteer coaches complete the NYSCA certification program.


– Forty-six experts representing different organizations gather to develop the first ever National Standards for Youth Sports.


– Hook A Kid On Golf established with its first Introductory Clinic. United States Golf Association announces $90,000 matching grant program and Professional golfer Bob Murphy becomes the national spokesperson.


– NYSCA evolves into the National Alliance for Youth Sports.


– Start Smart Sports Development Program launched and first program held in Naples, Florida.


– National Youth Sports Officials Association certifies 1,040 officials during its first year.
– The Alliance website launches.
– Bob King, director of the Bradley County Parks & Recreation department in Cleveland, Tennessee certifies NYSCA's one-millionth coach. King receives a special letter of recognition from President Bill Clinton.


– 228 recreation professionals from 44 states and 12 countries attend the first Academy for Youth Sports Administrators in Mobile, Alabama.


– Start Smart unveils sport-specific soccer and baseball programs to prepare children for a smooth transition into those sports.
– The doors to Hook A Kid On Golf's first-ever state office open in Illinois, thanks to the passionate efforts of Jerry Rich.


– More than 100 youngsters from 16 cities nationwide arrive in Peoria, Illinois for the first Hook A Kid On Golf Traditions of Golf Challenge.
– Why Johnny Hates Sports, written by NAYS founder Fred Engh, hits bookshelves nationwide.


– The Jupiter-Tequesta Athletic Association becomes the first organization in the country to make the recently launched Parents Association for Youth Sports program mandatory. More than 2,000 parents file into Roger Dean Stadium for the first mandatory PAYS session, which is covered by the NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CNN, among others.
– The National Youth Sports Administrators Association program is launched for league presidents, board members and other volunteer administrators.
– Athletic Business Magazine and NAYS introduce the Excellence in Youth Sports Award.


– Recommendations for Communities, which were established from the National Summit on Raising Community Standards in Children's Sports, are released.
– More than 300 delegates convene in San Antonio, Texas, for the first-ever Youth Sports Congress. Award-winning writer Lester Munson of Sports Illustrated delivers the keynote address.


– Parents have the opportunity to go through the Parents Association for Youth Sports program from the comfort of home thanks to unveiling of the on-line program.
– The International Alliance for Youth Sports formed.
– First International Summit held in Atlanta, Georgia.


– After thousands of NYSCA clinics that have been held in big cities, small towns and on various continents, the 2 millionth coach is trained.
– The Global Gear Drive initiative is created to distributing sporting goods equipment to children in developing countries.


– High-ranking sports officials from more than a dozen countries throughout the Caribbean, as well as Mexico and Zambia, gather in Roseau, Dominica, for the first-ever Caribbean Conference on Children's Sports.
– SportingKid magazine becomes the official member publication of NAYS. The full-color magazine delivered to volunteer coaches, parents, administrators and officials six times a year is packed with information to enhance the youth sports experience for everyone involved.
– Game On! Youth Sports, a first-of-its-kind approach that creates opportunities for children to participate in healthy physical activities that otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to do so, is launched in Dominica.
– Coaching Soccer for Dummies (the first in a series) is released in partnership with Wiley Publishing.
– The Sammy Wilkinson Memorial Foundation is established to support NAYS' international efforts.


– NYSCA Clinics are made available online for the first time.
– Alliance celebrates its 25th Anniversary as the leading advocate for positive and safe sports for children.
– Alliance releases background check guidelines to assist leagues based on findings from a special session on background screening held during the Youth Sports Congress in Denver.


– The Youth Sports Congress is held in conjunction with the Athletic Business Conference in Orlando, FL.


– The National Standards for Youth Sports are reviewed and updated by over 200 youth sports professionals in San Antonio, Texas.
– The first ever NAYS Youth Sports Study was conducted with the results featured in SportingKid magazine.


– NYSCA members are given access to a personalized online page.
– NYSCA unveils its Coach Ratings Tool.
– The NAYS Chapter Management system is created allowing chapters instant access to training, background check and evaluation information on their members.


– The Accountability Policies and Procedures for NYSCA members is released to track coach incidents through NAYS chapters.
– The NYSCA Coach Training program is re-released that includes Pete Carroll, Mike Krzyzewski, Vivian Stringer, John Harbaugh and many others.


– The Ready, Set, RUN! program was created.
– IAYS and the Peace Corps formed a new partnership.


– A new NYSCA Online area was unveiled to volunteer coaches.
– Alliance releases updated background check guidelines to assist leagues based on findings from screening session held during the Youth Sports Congress in Orlando.
– A new NYSAA Online area was unveiled to volunteer administrators.


– The NYSCA Select program was created for elite and traveling coaches.
– NAYS unveils a new Concussion and Bullying Prevention Training programs for volunteer coaches and parents. Both programs are offered at no cost.
– A new PAYS Online area was unveiled for parents.


- Free Concussion and Bullying Prevention Training programs were created for non-members.
- A new NYSOA Online area was unveiled to volunteer officials and referees. In addition a new CYSA Online area was unveiled to professional administrators.
- The Sports Parent Pledge was created to promote positivity and have parents advocate for good sportsmanship in youth sports.
- NAYS unveils a new Prevention Against Abuse Training program for coaches and parents.
- NAYS launches a new video web series called Game Changers featuring current and former professional coaches and players.


– NAYS unveils a new Mental Health Challenges Training program for volunteer coaches.
– NAYS created SportingKid Live, an online resource for youth sports related news, to replace its SportingKid magazine.


– Founder Fred Engh retires after 35 years of leadership
– Rebranding of all education and membership programs, the National Youth Sports Coaches Association is now NAYS Coach Training and Membership
– Coaching Youth Basketball is the first sport specific training to offer two age groups (U10 and U16)


– Significant update to the National Standards for Youth Sports at the annual Youth Sports Congress
– New Coaching Youth Sports training video is released featuring coaches Roy Williams, Jim Larranaga, Joe Maddon, Lisa Stockton and more; and is hosted by ESPN’s Karl Ravech


– Launch of the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation


– NAYS Member Organizations are able to order coach background checks through NAYS, thanks to an integrated partnership with a national background screening provider. 
– Start Smart Move and Play, an introductory fine and gross motor skills program for children 2-3 years old, is added to NAYS Youth Development line of programming.


– In partnership with Simon’s Heart, NAYS releases a free Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Sports Training.
– The first Virtual Youth Sports Congress is held with more than 400 online participants.