Sunday, April 14

Youth leagues across Palm Beach County seek volunteer coaches as participation grows

Youth leagues across our area need volunteer coaches as a new season of sports begins.

Many people think of sports as just an extracurricular activity, but for many children, it’s a haven and a way to make lifelong friends.

Kim Kendall spends two hours a day training her son at Hester Community Center in Boynton Beach.

“I started training him when he was 5 years old,” Kendall said. “It brings us closer because all he has is me. He’s more knowledgeable of the game. I’m preparing him for the future.”

While she spends time working on her son’s basketball skills, she also credits the impact of youth coaches.

“Most kids need that structure, they need that support,” Kendall said. “They need somebody who believes in them. Without that, I think a lot of kids fall through the cracks.”

While Kendall and her son bond at the Hester Community Center, administrators in Boynton Beach are working together to ensure they have enough coaches for all sports teams.

Recreation supervisor Todd Johnson said about 200 to 300 kids are participating in youth sports.

While Johnson said teams will be ready to start playing this upcoming season, they still need more volunteer coaches even if it may be a backup plan.

“In the event that someone has something going on and can not do it for the particular season, then we have that base that we could pull from,” Johnson said.

The extra volunteer coaches aren’t just a Boynton Beach issue, communities including Palm Beach Gardens are also feeling the need.

“Almost all of our recreational sports are run by volunteer parents,” Manolo Calvo, president of the Palm Beach Gardens Youth Athletic Association, said. “This allows us to operate for free in essence, and it keeps the cost very low for all of the families.”

Calvo said the organization won’t have to cut teams, but they are trying to keep up with the growth of youth sports.

“For soccer alone, we have something like 1,300 kids, and then baseball it’s like 600, so all of those teams need parents,” Calvo said. “They need coaches. They need assistant coaches, and we need volunteers.”

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