Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sportsmanship, exercise tops for new program

December 8, 2010

Flag-football, basketball and cheerleading are just a few options to get kids off the couch and outside, thanks to a new extra-curricular program in the area.

The program, i9Sports, joined the mix this fall to encourage exercise and sportsmanship for area children, ages 4 to 14.

A franchise of youth sports leagues, i9Sports aims to make sure kids have fun while playing sports. Sure, they are competitive but it’s all about the experience.

Terry Reuter, Lenexa, began the area franchise, which services children in Olathe, Shawnee and Lenexa, in May after leaving his job in financial and technology management.

“I was looking for something to do, and a friend said I should do something I’m passionate about,” he said.

Reuter, a father of four, had always been involved in sports. When he found i9Sports, he immediately agreed with their philosophy.

“I felt there was a gap between kids that were recreational and wanted to play for fun and those that are really competitive,” he said. “This fills that gap. It’s fun, focused on equal play.”

This fall, Reuter began his first program, eight weeks of co-ed flag football and cheerleading.

“I looked for programs that I thought would work here in the area,” he said. “Flag football is a growing program. There is a lot of tackle football, but with the concern on head injuries flag-football is a good option for 4- to 14-year-olds.”

Reuter waits for a sampling of registrants to determine where to stage practices and games.

School districts, churches and other recreational facilities allow programs to reserve fields in the area for play, he said. After determining a majority of participants were from Shawnee and Lenexa, Reuter found a field off Interstate 435 and 87th Street.

“We try to make it convenient for the parents,” he said. “That’s a big qualification to find where we play on the weekends.”

Kecia Chappel, Shawnee, said the convenience of practice and games on the same day was nice for her son, Greyson, 5.

“It was really good,” Chappel said. “Everything was contained to one day. It’s two hours of our lives, but it’s just two hours on one day. Other organizations have practices two or three times a week, it’s a lot of commitment.”

Greyson played flag football on a team coached by his father, Bret.

Reuter said many parents volunteer to be coaches and that i9Sports offers resources to ease any anxiety.

“We don’t want them to feel alone,” he said. “On our website we have Coaches Corner to help them. Some of the volunteer coaches had more fun than the kids.”

The program also incorporates sportsmanship lessons into each weekend session.

Coaches talk to their teams about what it means to be a good sport. At the end of each game a team member who best exemplified sportsmanship is awarded with a trophy.

Chappel said the lessons were perfect for children on the teams.

“We’ve never, in other organizations, had a lesson like this each week,” she said. “It’s great to have a teachable aspect. They are the right age to start learning about sportsmanship, playing fair and being honest.”

Reuter said he was surprised by all the interest in his first season.

“It was amazing,” he said. “I felt bad after the first week of games. We had people on a waiting list. It really took off. Being a new program, the registrations were coming in later versus earlier. Once the season got started we were able to add more teams if needed.”

In all, 140 area children participated in either cheerleading or football.

For cheerleaders, the children practiced for the same hour before football games, then cheered on different teams. During halftime, the cheerleaders put on a show.

“We wanted to make it as real as possible for the cheerleaders,” Reuter said. “Toward the end of the season they did a tunnel for the players to run through.”

Reuter said the entire season was a success, thanks to cooperative weather and support from parents.

“I hope they (children) leave knowing they had a good time and want to come back to play again,” he said. “One of the things that happens in youth sports is that kids quit before high school because they aren’t playing enough or don’t like the coaches. We try to play each kid an equal amount of time.”

One child that had a great time was Greyson. He’s already signed up to play basketball with i9sports this winter.

“We’ve already signed Greyson up for basketball, and I’m actually going to coach his team this winter,” Chappel said. “One of my best friends lives in Weston (Mo.) and she is bringing her kids down to play on the team, as well.”

The program applies a tiered pricing structure, which varies depending on when a person registers.

Fees generally start at $125 if registered a few months in advance, to $155 a few weeks before the season begins.

The fees are all-inclusive. For flag football, that includes a jersey and flag belt; for cheerleading, a top, skort, pompoms and hair ribbon; for basketball, a jersey. Fees also include a participation medal or trophy and the opportunity to win sportsmanship medals.

The winter basketball and cheerleading leagues begin Dec. 18. For more information contact Terry Reuter at (816) 589-9894 or register online at www.i9sports.com.

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