young boy on soccer field

Before this year, six-year-old Jay had never played soccer. He was hesitant—not knowing what to expect. His mom Jennifer, however, knew that he’d love the game if he just got out there.

This fall, Jennifer decided to sign him up for soccer with YMCA Youth Sports. “As the season progressed, I saw more and more confidence in him,” she says. Not only did she notice his confidence on the field, but she also noticed it at home and in their everyday life. “I saw [him] grow before my eyes!”

Jay's coach made sure that the young player had a chance to score a goal during one of his games, which Jennifer shares was a major confidence boost. “I think he was surprised that it went into the net!” she jokes. “Afterward, he ran over to the sidelines and did a little victory dance. He was so happy—he talked about it for the rest of the day.”

Jennifer really enjoyed the learning and teaching environment that YMCA Youth Sports provided to her son. “Jay was proud of himself,” she shares. “[Through soccer] he also established some sweet friendships. He was integrated into a team that helped develop skills while including and encouraging him.”

There were several moments during the soccer season that Jennifer calls the ones you “live for as parents,” like when Jay would look over and smile at her on the sidelines in the middle of playing. “No matter the outcome of the game, seeing our kids having fun and making new friends is what it’s all about,” she says.

Enrolling Jay in Youth Sports was about keeping some sense of normalcy, Jennifer explains. “Keeping a schedule and allowing [the kids] to continue playing sports helps with their mental and emotional health during this pandemic.” She also appreciated that Youth Sports was a great outlet for some of Jay’s energy—which he has “plenty of,” as a six-year-old.

Jennifer wasn’t worried about safety precautions, because she has been back at the Y for regular workouts since July. “I’ve been a member for six years,” she says. “I knew safety would be of utmost importance, and I had no doubt the Y would take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe in Youth Sports, just like they do at [our centers].”