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Tyndall's youth sports program earns award

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- The youth center staff here will receive one of five 2004 Excellence in Youth Sports Awards from the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine. Baseball all-star Cal Ripkin Jr. will present the award Nov. 12 in Orlando, Fla.

The award recognizes organizations worldwide that conduct diverse youth sports programs focusing on providing positive and safe experiences for all participants.

The youth center was chosen from more than 9,000 organizations eligible for the award including other military bases and nationally recognized youth organizations.

One program offered at the youth center is “start smart,” which teaches children general sports skills and the basics of baseball, basketball, soccer and golf. There are also sports leagues for children as old as 15.

“(The programs) are well organized and well supported,” said Capt. Steve Howell, a volunteer coach and a 325th Medical Group flight commander. “My 11-year-old son is getting ready to play soccer in a league downtown. Without the programs here on base, I’d be so worried about him, but I know he has the skills to compete out there now.”

Along with the basic sports programs, youth center officials said they plan to offer activities including archery and tennis. Andy Wallace, youth center fitness coordinator, is also introducing more extreme sports such as surfing and skateboarding.

“There has been a 30-percent increase in participation in youth center programs during the last two years,” said Bruce Mason, the youth center sports director. “It shows the programs we’re running are good programs -- they are programs the kids and their parents want.” (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)

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