When the time came to start thinking about signing our twins up for organized sports, their dad and I started talking about our personal opinions about youth sports. The boys’ dad is a former college athlete, and has coached both basketball and lacrosse at the varsity level for years. Needless to say, his opinions were a bit more informed than mine, someone whose athletic ability rivals that of a newborn giraffe.
We knew we wanted a program where fundamentals and good sportsmanship are key components. We knew we wanted a program that fostered a positive self-esteem in a fun environment that did not focus on competition at an early age.
Around this same time, we started seeing signs for a new youth sports program, i9, pop up all over the Northland. A quick check of their website, and an email to a few friends who had already tried the program, and we knew this was the way to go.
i9 was founded on the principle that kids should play sports to learn and have fun, not as a means to a pro career. The i9 experience is based, in part, on the following:
One Day Per Week Commitment – Each week there is one game and one practice right before the game. Not only is this perfect for busy families, but it also helps to prevent burn-out and kids getting bored with playing the same thing for extended periods of time. We were not quite ready for our 5 year olds to “pick a sport” just yet, so the once-a-week commitment, and short session were perfect for us.
Emphasis on Learning and Sportsmanship – Players receive age-appropriate instruction during in-game play and teamwork. Weekly sportsmanship values are taught and recognized with an award. Each week, a different character trait is highlighted, and a different player is selected as the award winner. Players are given a sign to take home for the week to display in their yard and a medal to wear.
Safe and Supportive Environment – Coaches are background checked and certified. Trained officials are at every game and parents sign the “i9 Sports Parental Pledge,” which prohibits sideline negativity, creating a fun, enjoyable experience for the whole family. This was super important to us. When someone else is working with your child, you want them to be positive and encouraging.
Focus on Fun – Players enjoy equal playing time regardless of talent level. There are no tryouts or drafts.
We have played i9 soccer and basketball, and both experiences were amazing. The staff is friendly, and the program is organized and well-run. Our coaches were knowledgeable and encouraging. We loved everything about our i9 experience!
If you are looking for a terrific program for your athlete, I recommend i9. You can sign up now for Spring sports in the Northland and in Johnson County, Kansas, and if you sign up by January 18, you receive a $20 discount on your registration fee.