NV Schools' connection to local youth sports grows, builds on benefits
Youth sports has emerged as a powerful benefit to students in Nooksack Valley Schools, an effort the staff of schools continue to champion as a way to further develop students.
“We feel like our kids need experiences outside of school that encourages their growth,” says Kevin DeVere, Everson Elementary principal. “Being on a team, practicing, that elevates the idea of a growth mindset that with the right effort and practice we can get better at things and learn. Sports, music, the arts, Boy Scouts are all different ways of cultivating that.”
Nooksack Valley Schools has identified youth sports as a way for students to participate in something outside of school, improve their physical health, learn discipline, hard work and team work while gaining an opportunity to close the “opportunity gap” by making youth sports accessible for all students. Plus, youth sports creates a chance for students to work with another caring adult and expand the interest in school athletic programs.
“Youth sports is a valuable part of our Purple Pride Community and creates a sense of family between our youth, older athletes and parents,” says Tom Harmon, NV Schools athletic director. “We want young Pioneers excited about being high school Pioneers and representing the valley. There are a fantastic number of adults who care enough to donate time to enrich our youth and sports is a great example.”
The Nooksack Valley high school softball team celebrates this connection by welcoming youth softball teams and alumni in their dugout at home games to help create a sense of family within the program. “Our high school players welcome both the youth kids they work with and the alumni they look up to with open arms,” Harmon says. “It is a pretty cool thing to see yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same dugout.”
Harmon says youth sports offers an excellent opportunity to develop life skills in regard to competition, conflict, fairness, a sense of injustice, all while playing and having fun.
DeVere has spearheaded an effort to pair community organizations with families in the school to not only educate them about sports opportunities, but also create scholarships that allow students to participate if cost is a factor. While DeVere says his efforts aren’t just about sports and he includes music, art and more, from a sports perspective he has seen the local soccer program realize a boom in participation over the last two years.
For students who aren’t always offered opportunities, the chance to participate in a sport has proven incredible, DeVere says. “School is hard for some. If there is a language barrier, it is hard work,” he says. “To experience success and comradery in a team around something physical certainly isn’t hurting anybody.”
NV Schools thanks those community volunteers who have worked to create this atmosphere. Those making this happen in baseball include Lonnie Bauman, Hali Kimball, Tanya Silves, Ella Lentz, Adele Dykstra, Jerry Parker and Amy DeWaard. For basketball: Tyler and Tanya Silves, T.J. Ackerman and Mike Coppinger and for football, Kevin Hester, Mick O'Bryan, Tanya Silves and Amy Ackerman. Thanks also to Pete Robbin (softball), Dave Gebhart (soccer) and Shannon and Justin Morgan in wrestling.