From the Roanoke County website:
In this article from our Winter 2012 edition of Recreation Family Fun Guide, we take a look at the new Great Beginnings youth sports programs for preschool aged children.
I teach parents first, and then the parents can teach their kids,” says Ed Green, coordinator of Roanoke County’s new Great Beginnings youth athletics program. Green shouts instructions to a fresh group of parent and child participants with the intensity of a veteran coach, and the passion of a loving grandparent. For the past seven years, this former basketball coach and athletic director at Roanoke College has dedicated his life to enhancing family relationships through sports.
Inspired by memories of playing catch with his father at a young age, Ed Green started the program as a way to introduce his own grandchildren to the fundamentals of game-play, technique and sportsmanship. He says Great Beginnings is unique because of its strong focus on relationship building. “This may be the first experience a child has had with another person or coach barking out skills. It’s important that parents model the proper skills for the child. I try to exemplify a positive atmosphere and get around to every parent and child.”
Every Great Beginnings class requires the participation of at least one parent or guardian. Green ends every session with a sit-down talk about ethical and moral values. “You learn two ways, by the books you read and the people you meet,” says Green. “If you get on a bicycle and just sit there you fall off. You have to have coordination. That requires being able to go down the sidewalk in a balanced manner. In the same way, you have to have a balanced life. I’m talking to the parents, too! Socially… nutritionally… Be yourself, believe in yourself and be going somewhere.”
Lee Faulkner is the parent of two Great Beginnings participants, and says that Ed Green brings something to the program that you don’t always see in sports instruction. “He’s getting a positive message out, not just to the kids, but to the parents too. In addition to his strong emphasis on learning sports fundamentals, Ed weaves stories and lessons about life into his instruction. He takes a holistic approach to instruction and he’s totally committed to the service he provides. Kids leave his programs with more confidence and a strong foundation in both technical skills and sportsmanship. And you can tell he has a love for coaching as well as a love for the kids.”
While some parents are at first a little hesitant about participating with their child, most end up getting something out of the program for themselves. Arlain Martin says that her son’s participation in a Roanoke County youth athletics program had a huge impact on her husband. “I think they bonded as father and son, and it was exciting for Zach to do something with his father. It also prompted my husband to volunteer in other sports as a coach. Now he’s an assistant football coach and he’s gotten so much out of it… To be able to watch my son develop as a player, with sportsmanship and camaraderie and help pass those lessons on to others!”
Ed Green hopes that the social, athletic and moral balance he prescribes will affect the world in a positive way for years to come. Roanoke County athletics supervisor Allen Hayes agrees, saying that there is much more to the program than just learning a new skill. “I am a firm believer that as a society, our youth sports have gotten too competitive and children are not learning fundamentals of a sport or are too focused on winning. Great Beginnings Programs are the perfect first experience for a child into organized sports. It is an innovative step-by-step approach that builds participants confidence and self-esteem in a fun and safe sports environment.”
When asked about the success of the program, Ed Green says he won’t know for another 20 years. “I hope what I’m talking about at the end of each session is going to multiply, and the families will be able to teach their children,” says Green. “The success will come from families enjoying one another in a positive recreational atmosphere long after the Great Beginnings program is over. That’s my goal.”
Click here to register online.