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NEWS | Feb. 25, 2020

Starting young: children learn leadership through sports

By Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – Around the world, millions of children participate in youth sports. Over 500 of those children play in programs at Langley Air Force Base.

I grew up playing soccer and a little bit of almost every other sport. Playing sports not only instills a love of the game but also teaches teamwork and how to keep going even when things get tough. Now as a youth sports coach with the Langley Air Force Base Youth Sports Program, I have the opportunity to help many children improve their skills and grow that same love of sports, teamwork and hard work.

The LAFB YSP provides an opportunity for children ages 5-8 to learn the fundamentals of sports while having fun playing.

“The kids have fun playing the sports and meeting new friends, especially if they have just moved to the area,” said Margaret “Peggy” Senecal, 633rd Force Support Squadron Youth Sports and Fitness director. “Then there are all the physical and health aspects. It’s a good way to get them outside, burning energy in a wholesome environment.”

The program is available to dependents of Active Duty military members, retirees and Department of Defense employees from any branch of service. The program includes almost all core league sports: baseball, soccer, basketball, flag football and cheerleading.

Practices are conducted on base or at the Youth Program building on Big Bethel Road in Hampton, Virginia and 50 percent of games are guaranteed to be played at home. The local organizations that LAFB Youth Sports works closely with are the Fort Eustis Youth Sports, Poquoson Parks and Recreation, American Youth Soccer Organization and Aberdeen Youth Baseball.

Coaches and referees for the teams are entirely made up of volunteers who complete a long application process including background checks, many hours of training and certification by the National Youth Sports Coaches Association.

“Coaching has been an amazing opportunity, the smiles you get from the kids during a game or after practice makes everything worth it,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Trenton Glass, 83rd Network Operations Squadron boundary protection technician and certified NAYS coach. “Knowing you are making an impact on a child’s life is an awesome feeling.”

Registration for each sport begins approximately one month before practices start for the season. At this time the LAFB Youth Sports Center is still accepting registrations for spring soccer and baseball.

Children receive team jerseys to wear at games and may receive trophies at the end of the season.

“It is a lengthy process for our coaches, but the outcome is totally worth it,” Senecal said. “It’s not a winning and losing kind of environment, it’s about having fun learning the sport and hopefully carrying these skills on through a lifetime of fitness and health,” Senecal said.

To learn more information about how you can become a coach, referee or on how your child can become involved with youth sports contact:

Langley Air Force Base Youth Sports Program: (757) 225-2606

Fort Eustis Youth Sports Program: (757) 878-0833