Five key ways volunteers contribute to youth sports
By Scott Hallenbeck, USA Football CEO & Executive Director
Volunteers are influential, powerful and game-changing. They foster positive experiences for student-athletes so they can acquire the inherent values football teaches. Without them, the game could not be played.
That is why each April we celebrate National Volunteer Month, which allows us to recognize the individuals who devote time from their busy workdays, weekends and evenings to ensure young athletes have an opportunity to play a game they love.
In honor of the necessary and everlasting contributions made by volunteers every season, learn how these patrons contribute to youth sports by encouraging participation, improving the athlete experience, strengthening local communities, serving as mentors, and ensuring the game thrives.
1. Increase participation. Participation in extracurricular sports significantly impacts short- and long-term educational, emotional, behavioral and physical outcomes for kids — especially for disadvantaged, poverty-stricken youth. However, many young people are unable to receive this experience due to lack of resources or on- or off-field support. Volunteers allow organized sports to thrive by devoting their time and energy to ensure young athletes have an opportunity to get involved and reap the benefits of being a part of a community.
2. Improve the athlete experience. Serving as a volunteer can bring a wide spectrum of benefits to youth and high school football teams, especially from a financial standpoint. By recruiting complimentary support from volunteers and community leaders, leagues can save funds and allocate them toward football-related expenses to help provide a more rewarding experience for student-athletes. This can include purchasing new equipment to ensure optimal protection or investing in educational resources for coaches that teach them how to navigate, build and sustain successful programs.
3. Strengthen local communities. Volunteers not only fortify the sport of football, but also strengthen the communities in which they serve. Beyond being visible leaders, educators and administrators, they provide the nuts and bolts that allow youth and high school football teams to function, such as lining the field, setting up and tearing down events, or announcing games. Their efforts are felt throughout entire communities and provide a sense of local pride.
4. Serve as mentors. Volunteers, especially coaches, have a strong influence upon youth athletes. In addition to being tasked with developing better players, they also serve as role models by promoting healthy living, social responsibility and education. As mentors, they are molding well-rounded individuals who learn the principles of arduous work, self-confidence, leadership, resilience and teamwork.
5. Keep the sport thriving. Football’s promising future will always be connected to the volunteers who help push it forward, as their devotion keeps the game flourishing and maximizes the football experience for athletes everywhere. Without their support, the game would not exist.