Why youth sports are important to me
By Ana Reynolds, DEI Success Manager, Every Kid Sports.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to sample a lot of sports but curiously enough, I never felt like a sports-inclined person. I think this was because organized sports scared me a little bit. I grew up in Venezuela where playing sports in school was not a choice. If a child wanted to play sports, it meant that parents had to invest a great deal of money and time for them to participate. Since I didn’t feel a connection to sports, I never insisted to participate in most sports.
While I was in high school, I discovered my love for running and started to participate in 5Ks and 10Ks. In Venezuela, running was not considered a sport, so again, I did not consider myself a sports-savvy person. That all changed when I moved to the United States to go to college. Having a language barrier was difficult enough, but on top of that, I had no sense of community in this very foreign-to-me place.
“Not only did I have the chance to do something I love while connecting with the community, this expanded on my love for sports in general.”
By destiny or luck, I met one one of the Cross Country runners in one of my classes. Cross Country was not a thing in Venezuela, so it was fascinating to hear that I could use my love for running to find a sense of community and belonging (and a scholarship!) in this new world I was navigating. I decided to try out for the Cross Country team and I was selected.
Not only did I have the chance to do something I love while connecting with a community, this expanded on my love for sports in general. I found new hobbies in sports I had tried in the past and a new energy around organized sports, I started viewing them as an opportunity instead of an obligation. This has translated now into me viewing sports as a mean that allows me to connect with my friends and meet new people instead of viewing them as purely competitive and cumbersome.
This is why playing youth sports is important to me.