Youth league leaves its mark

Youth league leaves its mark

Erazo (right) celebrates at Dairy Queen with her fellow ABGC teammates after their first win of the season.

Junior Dakmar Erazo has developed her skills as a goalie since she joined a youth soccer team at the age of six. Playing on a youth league has not only prepared her for high school soccer, but it has also secured her vital life skills. Many other students are also former participants of youth leagues from around the states.

“I think the best sports to play are soccer and basketball. They are fun team sports that I enjoy playing,” Erazo said.

With hundreds of after school programs and sport-related activities available, young athletes have multiple opportunities to join a youth league. The Annandale Boys and Girls Club (ABGC) is popular throughout Annandale and offers a wide range of sports and programs for elementary, secondary and high school students.

However, youth leagues aren’t always the best choice for students. Some kids prefer their parents to coach them in a sport rather than being surrounded by strangers.

“I played soccer in a youth league as a kid and I hated it. It was the same drills over and over and I was pretty lazy and I didn’t know anyone,” senior Zach Rodemer said.

Chris Collins Dance Studio is another place for young athletes to get involved. It is a jazz, tap, contemporary, hip hop and lyrical dance studio that provides classes for all ages. The studio is known for its prestige and has turned students into award winning dancers. Many students see the benefits of participating in individual sports, as opposed to team sports.

“I have learned to respect myself and others, and I have learned how to work with other people, specifically children, and to be responsible in dance class,” sophomore Kelcie Chandler said. “Being in this studio has also prepared me for harder routines and is still helping me with my life beyond school.”

The Annandale Wrestling Team, or the ‘Mat Rats,’ is a middle school-based wrestling team that has tryouts and practices at AHS. The group also holds camps for middle school students from all over Virginia. This team is an example of one of the many team sports that allow for teamwork development.

“Team sports let you practice collaboration. They force you to work with others, like setting team goals and finding schedules,” Spanish teacher Benjamin Carlos said. “With individual sports you have to do things yourself and find less dependence.”

With the diverse set of youth leagues covering a wide range of sports, athletes have had the chance to improve their skills in order to get to where they are today.

“I think kids should participate in youth leagues and play sports to be athletic when they’re older so they can use the skills they develop later on in life,” freshman Jose Hinojosa said. “Sports, overall, can help shape their future.”