Note: This is the fifth of eight profiles recognizing the outstanding organizations that were presented with the Excellence in Youth Sports Award in New Orleans during the Youth Sports Congress. The prestigious award, developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, recognizes programs that are doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants, including children, parents and coaches.

At Fort Leonard Wood Youth Sports and Fitness in Missouri, its diverse offering of sports programs focuses on two important principles: fun and development.

So regardless if children are on the soccer field, basketball court or involved in any of the 10 team sports offered at the base they’re assured of having a positive experience, and learning sports skills in the process.

Plus, participants gain valuable life skills that they’ll use for many years to come, as every Fort Leonard Wood program is fully dedicated to teaching children honor, respect and leadership.

“We consistently strive to provide a positive and safe experience for our athletes, families and coaches,” says Jamal Verdell, youth sports and fitness director at Fort Leonard Wood Youth Sports and Fitness. “We seek daily to offer an environment focused on honor, respect and leadership. As a military installation we keep in mind the diverse needs of our families and aim to reduce conflict between military readiness and parental responsibility.”  

Being a good sport really does mean something at this base, too. Besides the pre- and post-game handshakes, coaches high-five players for displays of good sportsmanship; officials acknowledge positive displays, and one player from each team earns the Sportsmanship Award as voted on by the coaches of who they believe has exemplified the most sportsman-like characteristics.

Fort Leonard Wood Youth Sports and Fitness has built a special relationship with the St. Louis Rams too, hosting NFL Play60, a St. Louis Rams Fundamental Skills camp, and taking athletes up to the Rams’ training camp.

Fort Leonard Wood provides professionally managed programs ranging from sports that will provide opportunities to meet the developmental, educational, leisure, recreational, physical and social needs of youth, to exercise and fitness programs that focus on the five components  of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility and body composition.

“This program teaches and enhances the skills and education of athletes through a positive, fun and safe environment so our youth not only develop into successful athletes on the playing field but in life as well,” says Verdell.

At Fort Leonard Wood it believes that recreational sports bring out skills like determination, persistence, hard work and leadership, and that by providing fun experiences youngsters will be inspired to strive to become not only better in sports, but in life.

“Special events and game day activities are important to our organization, as we seek to make each athlete’s experience unique and special,” says Verdell. “We want our athletes to know that we take pride in providing opportunities they would not receive elsewhere.”

Fort Leonard Wood Excellence Award Sportsmanship

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