The Fort Detrick Youth Sports staff in Frederick, Maryland goes all in when it comes to providing programs that all members of the family can be a part of and enjoy.

And their outstanding efforts during a year unlike any other helped them earn the Excellence in Youth Sports award.

The prestigious award is presented by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine for a specific initiative, process, project, campaign, element or component of a program that goes above and beyond. In order to be eligible for an Excellence Award an organization must first earn the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation, which demonstrates that a program has taken the necessary steps to ensure quality throughout their program.

“Winning this award tells us that we are going above and beyond,” says Shanise Swanson, CYS Sports & Fitness Director at Fort Detrick. “We are thinking outside the box and we are finding creative ways to keep our whole community involved.”

Are they ever.  

During their youth sports seasons they flip the switch and stage games in which parents and coaches take the soccer field and basketball court to compete, while teens coach and sometimes even officiate. These popular events give the adults the chance to bond, gain a better understanding of the sport from the player’s point of view, and have a lot of fun, too.

“These events allow our parents to form relationships with our coaches and staff,” Swanson says. “Being a part of our program enables parents to interact with coaches through a friendly game; and it creates a sense of loyalty where they are more likely to come back and have a positive attitude.”

These games are terrific learning opportunities for the children and teens in the program, too.

“Coaches and parents are leaders for our children,” Swanson says. “So when the children are able to see their parents and their coaches working together as a team, they see the way they should be interacting with their own teammates.”


The staff brings moms and dads together for a parent meeting prior to the start of the season, which sets the tone for a positive experience for all involved.

“We go through all the do’s and don’ts for the season,” Swanson says. “And one of the things that we put an emphasis on is our engagement – we show the parents our excitement and that we have a spot for them. We let them know that this program is for the entire family and everybody will have an active role in having an enjoyable experience.”

And that has resulted in parents wanting to stick around and be a part of the program, helping any way they can.

“We’ve had several parents sign up to be a volunteer coach after their children have left our program,” Swanson says.  


The staff puts an exclamation point on their seasons by hosting a pep rally that everyone loves being a part of and looks forward to all season long.

Moms, dads and the volunteer coaches get to test their skills against each other in a variety of fun events. Friendly competitions are also staged for the kids.

When families get involved with Fort Detrick’s youth programs, they know that everyone is going to have a rewarding experience filled with memorable moments.

“Not all parents are meant to be coaches, but we have parents with many talents, and we have found a way to create all types of roles for our parents in our programs,” Swanson says. “Winning the Excellence in Youth Sports Award will allow us to hopefully share some of our best practices to help other programs engage their parents.”

View the full 2020 NAYS National Awards Presentation: 

Fort Detrick Fitness Coaching Parenting Family Exercise Excellence Award

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