City on the mark with youth sports program

By: 
Sep. 5, 2012

Ormond Beach has made a big commitment to youth sports. And it's the right decision.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

I’m new to the area. And as a result, every experience I’ve had in Ormond Beach over the last month has been, well, new to me.

In nearly every conversation I’ve had with a high school or youth coach over the last two weeks, one thing has been quite clear: Whatever Ormond Beach is doing to promote, encourage and maintain youth sports in the city and the immediate area is working.

The youth sports program may not produce the most per capita all-state players. It may not send dozens of its alumni to colleges on scholarships every year. There are probably many programs that have put more former members into the professional ranks. But those things aren’t what a youth sports program is meant to do.

Youth sports programs are meant to instill fundamentals of the individual sports. They’re meant to promote a safe atmosphere for young athletes. And they’re meant to develop skills and traits that will benefit those athletes not only while they’re athletes, but also after they’ve played their final games in organized sports, be it after the youth program, after high school or college.

This is not to say that there isn’t a place for highly completive youth sports programs. There absolutely is, and Ormond Beach is another example of how it can be run and funded. The city maintains four full-size baseball fields, nine softball fields, 11 youth baseball fields, eight soccer fields, four football fields, 10 tennis courts, 3.5 basketball courts, eight handball/racketball courts and skateboard and shuffleboard courts, in addition to nine playgrounds. This year, the city projects 28,000 participants — up 6,000 from last year.

The budget for these programs, field maintenance, utilities and upkeep is $1,175,196.

That commitment allows Ormond Beach to provide outlets for kids who just want a recreational atmosphere and also for youth athletes who thrive in a hyper-competitive environment.

And this is where Ormond Beach gets it right.

As the new guy in town, I look forward to getting to know everyone in the sports scene.

Know an Ormond Beach player who is doing big things for Mainland High School? Have a photo of a hole-in-one? Email me at matt@ormondbeachobserver.com.