When terror strikes in youth sports: Are you prepared?

When terror strikes in youth sports: Are you prepared?


An argument among parents last week at a youth football game involving 8-year-olds in Fort Worth, Texas turned violent as a mother and daughter were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Witnesses reported hearing more than 10 rounds fired.

It’s another in an alarming string of gun-related incidents at youth sporting events that illustrates the importance of those overseeing programs to have emergency plans and protocols in place when dangerous situations arise.

Earlier this month a youth football coach was shot and killed trying to break up a fight after a youth football game with 9- and 10-year-olds in Buffalo; in Texas a 17-year-old boy was arrested after firing gunshots toward a group of people at a park; and last year in Nashville a parent pulled out a pistol and shot a coach in front of a group of young players.

At the upcoming 18th annual Youth Sports Congress – Nov. 13-16 in Orlando, Fla. – a session addressing this issue will be held. When Terror Strikes at a Youth Sporting Event: Planning and Response will be presented by Steven Smith, co-founder and president of Guardian Defense in Boca Raton, Fla. 

Learning how to respond to an active shooter threat while at a practice or game is critical for any program that caters to children. During this session attendees will learn actions coaches must take if confronted with a dangerous situation to help protect athletes, parents and spectators. Tips to jumpstart planning, policy development and implementing efforts will also be covered.

In addition to his work at Guardian Defense, Smith is a full-time law enforcement officer in South Florida. He and two Guardian Defense instructors were among a group of five awarded Officer of the Year recognition for their performance during a hostage-rescue mission in 2017, as well as the Medal of Valor for the courage they displayed during the incident.


The Congress, the signature event of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, enables youth sports professionals to participate in both the Congress and the Athletic Business Show. For those attendees who have yet to earn their Certified Youth Sports Administrator (CYSA) credential, a special Onsite Academy for Youth Sports Administrators is simultaneously scheduled so participants can attend everything during their time in Orlando.

Pat LaFontaine, one of the greatest NHL players of all-time and a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, will open this year’s Congress with a must-see motivational keynote focused on perseverance.

LaFontaine’s keynote kicks off a special evening, which features recognizing the winners of the prestigious Excellence in Youth Sports Award as well as honoring the NAYS Volunteer Coach of the Year and the NAYS Parent of the Year. A fun-filled reception follows the award ceremony.

LaFontaine, a long-time youth sports advocate, is the Vice President of Hockey Development for the NHL. He played for the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers during his illustrious 15-year career and he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history.

This year’s Athletic Business keynote is Lou Holtz, legendary football coach, author and broadcaster. Holtz has authored three New York Times best-selling books, and has a new book, “Three Rules for Living a Good Life: A Game Plan for After Graduation,” which was released in early 2019. One of the greatest speaking legends in America today, Holtz will present “Game Plan for Success,” on overcoming seemingly impossible challenges by setting your own goals and working to achieve them.

An exceptional array of educational sessions will address important topics that are affecting the youth sports environment today. In addition to participating in the educational sessions, attendees will participate in keynotes, awards presentations, receptions, expo, and more, to network and learn with other professional youth sports administrators from around the world.

Plus, Certified Youth Sports Administrators can maintain their prestigious CYSA credential by earning continuing education and the processing fees are included in their CYSA registration.

Don’t delay – register today!

Congress Emergency Plans Steven Smith CYSA Safety

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