At the Town of Cary Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources in North Carolina fun, participation, sportsmanship and skill development are what it’s all about.

These are the cornerstones of the incredibly popular and successful youth sports programs it provides for the community, and which helped it earn the prestigious Excellence in Youth Sports Award. The Excellence Awards, created by Athletic Business Magazine and the National Alliance for Youth Sports, recognize programs doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities that focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants. 

“Our youth sports program is inclusive of every child in our community,” says Kyle Bacon, Program Attendant – Sports, for the Town of Cary. “Every boy and girl ages 5 through 18, regardless of experience or skill level, has an opportunity to participate with their peers in a fun, encouraging, educational environment.”

Children can compete in sports such as baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, tennis – and even disc golf.

Plus, there is an impressive offering of year-round sports camps that keep kids active, engaged and learning. These camps are available for lacrosse, running, skateboarding, BMX, volleyball, golf, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis and soccer.

“Thousands of kids participate in our baseball, softball, basketball and volleyball leagues, as well as a large number of camps, clinics and lessons,” Bacon says. “Whether the child is just starting out and learning the game, or whether they’ve been playing for years and are looking to hone their already well-developed skills, we have a place for them in our program.”

A key component of its programming is that every child receives equal playing time.

“Our youth sports philosophy is that we seek to encourage each of four fundamental principles – fun, sportsmanship, skill development and participation – and one of the most important ways that we encourage all four of these principles is through our playing time rules,” Bacon says. “Every participant in our program is guaranteed a minimum playing time of 50 percent of every game. We have tried to make the process of tracking playing time as simple as possible, for our staff who are doing the tracking; for our coaches who are implementing our policies; and for our parents, who must have confidence that their children are being treated fairly.”

It’s a system that has worked well.

“Because our rules are fairly simple and straightforward, and because our staff are well-trained and experienced, we very rarely have any problems or controversies with regard to implementing the rules, or tracking the playing time,” Bacon says. “For staff at the games, and for coaches on the bench, making sure all the kids receive the playing time they are due is a top priority, and is far more important than the final score of the game. As such, the implementation of our playing time rules is always in the front of everyone’s minds.”

The Town of Cary staff is clearly committed to providing high quality, safe and enjoyable activities for children. It received the Excellence in Youth Sports Award on Nov. 18 in Orlando, Fla., during the annual Youth Sports Congress that is held in conjunction with the Athletic Business Show.

Excellence Award Fun Sportsmanship Skill Development

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