The Page Youth Soccer League is underway, with around 350 children from pre-K through 8th grade participating this year.
“We have 45 more kids this year in our soccer program than we did last year. Last year we thought was a phenomenal year coming back from COVID. So, everybody was so excited to be back,” said Lynn Cormier, the recreation and community services director for the City of Page.
However, in the midst of this growth in player participation, few parents have signed up to serve as volunteer coaches for the league, meaning that in some age groups, more players are packed into fewer teams. This results in less playing time for many participants.
“We have what’s called a parent-coach program. Every single sports program that we have, we need parents to step forward and be coaches on their team,” Cormier said. “In a perfect world, if every parent coached just once in their lifetime, we probably would never have a shortage. But it only seems to be those same parents stepping forward.”
She said that when there are 80 or 90 children in an age group, the ideal arrangement is to have six teams of around 15 players each. But when there aren’t enough coaches, “you end up merging them into four teams of 20. It’s going to affect the kids in the sense that there is going to be a lot of them that aren’t going to get to play as much.”
The parent-coach system helps keep registration fees low – in the case of Page, only $40-50 for each player, which includes participation in the league as well as a team shirt and a pair of soccer socks.
At the end of season, volunteer coaches who have completed all requirements can have the registration fee for their child reimbursed, while assistant coaches can be reimbursed for half the registration fee.
Staff at the Parks and Recreation Department walk volunteers through the coaching requirements and supply the necessary equipment for practices.
“We give them a roster of all their team players. We give them a bag that has four or five balls, mini cones they can use to do drills, pinnies so when they practice, half the kids can be differentiated,” Cormier said. “Their duty is to reach out to all the parents and let them know the schedule … and basically take a consensus of when they want to have practices or what have you.”
She said the purpose of the city’s youth leagues is to serve as feeder programs for Page’s school sports programs.
“Without these feeder programs, these kids walk into junior high or high school never playing before,” she said, adding that children develop a better understanding of the sports they play as they advance through the age groups.
“You start to see that understanding of the rules as you get a little bit into third and fourth grades, and then fifth, sixth and on up into middle school, they’re really fun to watch.”
The Youth Soccer League games continue through the end of September.
Meanwhile, registration is already underway for the Youth Basketball League, which will consist of coed teams of players from 3rd through 8th grades. The coach’s meeting will be held Oct. 5 and games will begin Oct. 10.
Like the Youth Soccer League, the success of the Youth Basketball League depends on parents stepping forward and helping to coach their child’s team. Again, parents who coach will be refunded their child’s registration fee, while assistant coaches will be refunded half the fee.
Parents can volunteer by checking the box during online registration for the Basketball League at cityofpage.recdesk.com/community/program.
For more information about Page’s youth leagues, call 928-645-4380 or 928-640-2970.