Town of Erwin (N.C.) pushes for accountability of adults in youth sports


Erwin Parks and Recreation (N.C.) wanted to give its youth sports coaches, administrators and officials some sort of training on the sports they were involved in, but were concerned about promoting the culture of win-at-all-cost attitudes.

That is why when they learned about the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) and their many training/membership programs they knew they had found the perfect fit.
"We wanted to provide a standard certification program for our coaches,” said Allan Autry, athletic coordinator for Erwin Parks and Recreation. “I felt like this community needed some kind of basic training for the coaches because they had not had any training before. It’s mandatory for head coaches and voluntary for assistants.”
As a sign of support from the local government, the town of Erwin agreed to pay for every coach, administrator and official’s membership fee.
Since joining NAYS, Erwin has trained 23 of their youth sports coaches through the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA), NAYS’ coach education/membership program that is designed to prepare volunteer adults for the lofty responsibility of coaching a youth sports team.
Erwin Parks and Recreation has also trained several referees through NAYS’ officials program, the National Youth Sports Officials Association (NYSOA), and several administrators through the National Youth Sports Administrators Association (NYSAA).
“I like the fact that they cover all the issues, such as dealing with parents, helping kids with special needs, and focusing on fun instead of winning,” said Autry.
Erwin Parks and Recreation provides youth sports programming for more than 600 youngsters. Because they believe that a well-rounded youth sports experience has monumental effects on youth development, Erwin has decided to start from the top down by educating their adults.
“I think we wanted to use it mostly to protect the kids from any negatives that can happen in youth sports,” said Autry. “We want to give them the knowledge that translates into better action. We plan to recertify our coaches every year.”
And that is exactly what NAYS’ training programs do. NAYS believes that by educating adults on proper communication and safety, the youth sports experience becomes more enriching for everyone involved.
“I want to make sure our coaches have a basic knowledge of skills and be able to teach those, but with the emphasis on learning the skills, not winning the game,” said Autry. “Winning should be the by-product result of the learning.”
NAYS training programs help adults maintain proper perspective by having them sign a code of ethics at the conclusion of a three-hour seminar. If a coach, parent, administrator or official violates one of the codes, NAYS provides communities with a swift plan of disciplinary action.
The programs are great for first-time coaches, parents, officials or administrators who can benefit from this type of orientation before getting out onto the field. Adults who are veterans of youth sports can also learn from the training programs, which help to rid sports programs of outdated and unhealthy modes of thinking.
"One of our more experienced coaches, he’s starting to see more of what we’re trying to do here with regards to participation and fun now that he’s completed the program,” Autry said.
Now that NAYS’ programs are up and running in Erwin the children will inevitably begin reaping the benefits of an improved sports experience.


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