The City of Sparks Parks and Rec kicked off its Mini Sports Camp this week, in which children between the ages of 4-6 will learn and participate in four different sports over a four-week span. The four sports include basketball, baseball, soccer and flag football.
Week 1 started off with basketball as the campers took to the court at Alf Sorensen Community Center. After an intense game of ‘Red Light, Green Light,’ in which players practiced their dribbling skills, the class broke up into groups to try out some passes. Standing across from one another, the kids sent bounce pass after bounce pass to their teammates before putting their skills to the test in a game of ‘Monkey-In-The-Middle.’ Making sure not to neglect their shooting game, players finished off the practice with a round of buckets.
Mika Hills-Beach, whose 5-year-old daughter Olga is participating in the Mini Sports Camp, said the learning process is good for her.
“The instructors keep things pretty basic and simple, so she is able to keep pace and comprehend what they’re being taught,” Beach-Hills said. “The shooting has been tough for her, but she’s really picked up on the ball-handling skills. It’s great for her. I thought she might be apprehensive at first, but she has just went at it full speed. She just loves it out here.”
Making sure the kids continue to learn is one of the key focuses of the camp instructors.
“The four different sports for this age group really helps,” instructor Zach Lewis said. “I think for these guys being so young, it’s a really important factor. It’s really good because they tend to get pretty exhausted over one sport and they can’t really focus and do too many drills after that. We’re just trying to keep them busy because as soon as one kid gets distracted, it’s contagious and they all go wild.”
Maintaining the youngsters’ interest is another reason the instructors do not go too in-depth with their lessons.
“It’s kind of hard to teach little kids, especially at this age,” instructor Emily Gonzales said. “The most difficult part is definitely getting them to pay attention. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to do what we’re trying to do and understand what we’re trying to teach, so basically we just want to teach them the small stuff. Mainly we’re focusing on little things like passing the ball.”
While ensuring that the kids get the basics down is important, the 4-week course makes sure of teaching the campers how to have fun.
“We just want to teach them the fundamentals and make it fun for them,” instructor Brendan Bosch said. “We want to teach them fundamentals that will carry them through to when they start to go through more organized sports.”
Over the next three weeks there are lessons to be learned, but there is sure to be plenty of fun ahead as the kids try their hand at the remaining sports.
“She is having so much fun,” said Heather Betts, who brought her daughter Ariel, 4, to the Mini Sports Camp. “I mean just look at her out there, running around. She can’t dribble too well, but she’s even having fun chasing after the ball. She is just having so much fun.”
Once the kids start enjoying themselves, the instructors do too.
“It’s a lot of fun just seeing how much fun the kids have and the smiles on their faces,” instructor Jesse Erntson said. “It’s a really good time teaching them hands-on stuff and trying to make them better at different sports.”