Sophomore Amber Gay has been involved with rec-league sports since she was four years old. Back then, she admits she was more interested in having fun and making friends than becoming a soccer star.
“When you are young and play youth sports, everyone is bad. It is easy to just go out on the field and have fun while kicking the ball around,” Gay said.
One of her favorite experiences happened on a rainy day.
“It was pouring when we were playing, and I turned around with the ball and shot. I did not think it was going to go in, but then the ball ended up in the goal and I got very excited,” Gay said.
“What I like about rec is that you could play any position and it is way less strict than classic. You can just run around and have fun. And if you lose, it is no big deal because you are playing to have fun,” she said.
Due to Gay’s experience playing youth sports, she now referees for youth soccer and says she enjoys every minute of it.
According to numerous studies, local youth sports provide an opportunity for children to become active and learn athletics and team-building skills.
Locally, at least seven different sports are offered for youth in the Roberson district. One of the organizations in the community is South Buncombe Youth Sports, which offers basketball, softball and baseball.
“Our goal is to provide the opportunity for kids to experience playing on a team and learning about the sport. We have kids as young as 4 who have the chance to gain team and athletic skills and will eventually end up at TC,” Susan Stingle, a SBYS board member, said.
Janice Boyd agrees. She is the president of the TCR Youth Football and Cheerleading organization and said their organization’s mission is to teach the fundamentals of football and cheerleading.
“Our goal is that they can ideally carry those skills into middle school, high school and beyond,” Boyd said.
One of the main goals of most youth sports is to help children with their health by getting them to exercise more. Youth sports are a way for kids to learn how to play a sport, be active and meet other kids. Good experiences that come from playing youth sports range from meeting new friends to playing in action-packed games, according to athletes who play in the local leagues.
Sophomore Ashley Mcgraw participated in both youth soccer as well as youth basketball at a young age.
“Youth soccer allowed me to stay active while getting to hang out with my friends. I really enjoyed learning how to play as a team, and I learned skills I use today,” Mcgraw said.
Another stated purpose of youth sports is to help athletes decide which sport(s) they enjoy playing. Sports offered in Buncombe County range from soccer and football to cheerleading and baseball, which allow students opportunities to explore multiple interests.
“I like reffing the little kids because it is just good to see young people out there playing soccer. When I officiate 8 year olds, I am literally telling them how the game works. It is fun to teach the young ones how to play,” Gay said.