Functioning well in this COVID-19 environment is no small task, but Baumholder Child and Youth Services Sports Program staff and coaches have proven they can go above and beyond to keep their sports programs running safely.
The Baumholder CYS Sports Program recently received the prestigious designation of a Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider from the National Alliance for Youth Sports. According to the NAYS website, the designation is “a seal of commitment to quality and safety based on nationally accepted standards.”
Ingrid Osewalt, deputy director of USAG Rheinland-Pfalz Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, said the designation doesn’t come easily. The tough application process required detailed explanations of how NAYS quality standards are being implemented.
“The standards include written policies and procedures, volunteer screening, coach training, parent education, and accountability,” Osewalt said.
Baumholder CYS Youth Sports & Fitness Director Marcel Fisher said the designation means a great deal to their staff and coaches, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It validates our hard work and motivates us to keep pushing for excellence for our Baumholder Military Community,” he said. “During these challenging times, it is of utmost importance to provide a place where kids can continue to be kids and stay active in the safest and healthiest way possible, and our program achieves that.”
The Baumholder CYS Sports Program normally provides team sports, individual sports, and fitness and health programs for children ages 3-15, but Fisher said things changed dramatically this past year.
“Traditional sports seasons were not an option due to the limitations and safety concerns for our players,” he said.
Core sports like soccer, basketball and baseball were all affected, as well as rotational offers like tackle football, volleyball, and cheerleading.
“The biggest change is that no games/scrimmages or normal practices are allowed at this time,” Fisher said. “This is what most of our youth look forward to, but with our communication and guidance, they are able to understand why it has to be this way until we return back to normal.”
Baumholder CYS Youth Sports & Fitness Assistant Director Whitney Clemmons said adapting to a COVID-19 environment meant creating new individual sports activities in lieu of team sports.
“We implemented a COVID-19 modified archery, golf, foot golf, disc golf, cross country, and soccer skill camp into our summer and fall season, under the guidance and approval of our Army Public Health Nursing Division and garrison leadership,” Clemmons said.
One of those programs had an enormous response.
“There has been an unimaginable demand for archery in our community, which was offered for the first time this past summer,” she said. “Our team members are now working on ways to expand and improve our archery program to offer more and exciting sessions.”
All participants must adhere to strict COVID-19 mitigation measures, to include cleaning and disinfecting sports equipment, hand washing before entering a practice space, and social distancing.
Even with the restrictions, what they’ve been able to achieve has also impressed parents, like Marina Rodriguez, whose children started taking archery and have now expressed interest in trying other sports as well.
“Because CYS worked hard to find activities that would be approved when many other activities were cancelled, my children were able to have some sense of normalcy during the summer and fall,” Rodriguez said. “It gave them something to look forward to, and as parents, it was rewarding to see [them] stay active and healthy, while still following the safety guidelines.”
Volunteer cross country coach Arlene Coronel, whose daughters participate in many of the sports programs, assisted with the modified programs this summer.
“Without these programs, my kids wouldn’t be able to be as active,” she said. “We do miss having games and longer seasons for them to play. The clinics have been great for them to keep their motivation, but I do know they highly miss having more of it.”
Clemmons said that, with the upticks in corona cases in Germany, they are patiently waiting to see what will happen and what their leadership will decide for the future. But for now, she said they are focusing on the successes, from overwhelming positive feedback to increased communication with their patrons during the course of the pandemic.
“We are very appreciative and proud of our community. Our current fall season has become one of our most successful sports seasons in the past few years,” she said. “Depending on how things continue to develop under COVID-19, Baumholder Youth Sports & Fitness is always willing to accept any challenges and can ensure their patrons that we will continue to support our overall mission no matter what.”