Engagement in Youth Sports
8/16/23 | Academy WebDruid
Engaged parents are the lifeblood of Academy programming. It's why we devote substantial resources to welcome, engage, and listen to them. Since we spend a significant amount of time with their students, we want to strengthen the bond with our families who join us each year. Our parents much like their children, are joining what for most, is a foreign and very complex community. We provide our parents with a ton of information because we remember what it felt like when we began this journey almost twenty-years ago. Information wasn't readily available and finding someone patient enough to expend the energy and time to answer the numerous questions that arise when learning to navigate this new world, was never easy.
We also require a lot from our parents because we recognize that the success of community programming is all in the stakeholders willingness to invest resources and share their expertise in the development of the student-athletes in the program. It's literally a baptism-by-fire induction into the community -- overwhelming and at times, quite formidable. Understanding the Academy's mission is key to building a collaborative space for all. Our student's hail from diverse cultures and socio-economic backgrounds so an appreciation of these differing perspectives is invaluable in making the organization work, and helps to determine short and long-term goals for our youth. A myopic, one-size fits all approach is not beneficial nor sustainable.
We empower our parents to listen well, ask questions about Academy programming, and we stress the importance of participation in the community. We focus on communication and relationship building. The Academy is very transparent about the level of engagement and resources necessary to develop and support the competitive fencer. The specialization of training in one (1) sport can be intense to achieve an elite level in the sport. Done poorly and it can lead to injury, psychological stress and quitting in the early stages. At the Academy, it is student driven recreational play so that skill-development is holistically encouraged and managed. At the recreational level, parents are invited to help the student make decisions about goals, participation, and commitment.
Parental advocacy for youth fencing is very much needed. Competitive youth fencers (Y8/Y10/Y12/Y14) have no voice and are not adequately represented at the national level because they can not vote on measures that directly affect them. Parents can pay the Access membership fee which gives them the right to vote in Division and National elections.
Engaged parents make a commitment to keeping youth fencing in the community.
Listen here to the power of engagement in their own words.