For more information on life in Clark County, visit www.columbian.com/portrait.
Resources for assessing the benefits and drawbacks of a youth sports program include:
American Academy of Pediatrics, http://www.aap.org
Center for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov
Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, http://www.educ.msu.edu/ysi
National Alliance for Youth Sports, http://www.nays.org
President’s Council on Physical Fitness, http://www.fitness.gov
Rutgers University Youth Sports Research Council, http://www.youthsports.rutgers.edu/resources
For a select few Clark County residents, sports have provided an avenue to a national or international stage. A few more have received college scholarships thanks to their athletic skills.
For most children, sports offer less recognized — but perhaps more significant — rewards.
Recent studies point to a variety of benefits for children who participate in organized sports. Among those benefits are developing confidence, acquiring teamwork skills, learning physical skills and acquiring an interest in lifetime leisure sports, a sense of belonging, and an appreciation for fitness.
Still other studies indicate that childhood obesity is a significant problem in America, one that can impact kids for a lifetime. Participating in organized sports is one antidote cited by experts and educators.
But the best reason for kids to try organized sports is simple fun.
Such fun isn’t always easy to find. In fact, finding the right fit for a young athlete — sports he or she enjoys with coaches and teammates who both encourage and challenge each other — can be a daunting task.
The variety of sports and programs available seems to grow each year. While traditional team sports such as soccer and baseball are going strong, lacrosse is gaining popularity in this region. And for teens, rugby clubs are fielding teams for boys and girls.
The range of individual sports is broader. Some of the options: swimming, gymnastics, track and field, equestrian sports, cycling, rowing, tennis and martial arts.
Ideally, children can experience many of those sports on the way to finding their comfort zone as an athlete. Don’t be too quick to specialize in one activity, many experts and coaches say. In addition to giving children the chance to find the sports they most enjoy, playing more than one sport can broaden social networks and lessen the risk of repetitive-use injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends delaying specialization until a child has reached puberty.
In a policy statement released in 2000 and reaffirmed in 2006, the group stated: “Research supports the recommendation that child athletes avoid early sports specialization. Those who participate in a variety of sports and specialize only after reaching the age of puberty tend to be more consistent performers, have fewer injuries, and adhere to sports play longer than those who specialize early.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics website, http://www.aap.org, includes is a good resource for information on many topics related to kids and sports, including injury prevention and treatment.
When looking for sports programs for a child, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness recommends parents spend time with their child playing different sports and recreational activities.
Most organized sports programs offer financial assistance, or the option to trade volunteer time for participation.
Once a child has found a sport or sports that he or she enjoys, parents can explore more advanced programs.
In Clark County, youth sports programs are available through parks and recreation departments, community education programs, fitness clubs such as the YMCA, and established youth sports programs such as Little League and youth soccer clubs. The number of private teams organized by parents — particularly in baseball and basketball — continues to grow in Clark County.
Asking friends, classmates, and neighbors about the programs they have enjoyed can be a good starting point — especially when investigating individual activities such as gymnastics or martial arts, which are offered by a wide variety of private businesses.
Among important questions that experts encourage parents to ask are these:
• What kind of background checks and training is done to certify coaches?
• What is the time commitment involved for games and practices?
• What is the complete cost of the program and does it cover insurance? (Note that many programs offer financial aid).
• What is the skill level required of someone new to the sport or program?
In addition to friends, classmates and neighbors, parents can explore the youth sports world by visiting a variety of websites, or by contacting any of the many local programs and leagues listed in Portrait. Information is available in the online Community Sports Calendar, updated each Tuesday on Columbian.com/sports.
Little League: The 18 Little Leagues in Southwest Washington are divided into two districts: District 4 (http://www.wad4llb.org), and District 6 (http://www.district6wa.org). Registration for most Little Leagues is in January. The administrator for District 4 is Michael Ray, email@example.com.
Babe Ruth Baseball: Ages 13-15. Two Leagues serve Clark County: Hazel Dell Metro (hazeldellmetro.com), and Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth (cwbaberuth.com, 360-870-3503). Hazel Dell Metro also offers Cal Ripkin for ages 11-12 (70-foot base paths).
Senior Babe Ruth and American Legion: These are competitive summer teams for high school-age players. Information is available from high school coaches.
Independent teams: Privately run teams for many ages play during the summer. These teams play tournaments and in leagues such as the Junior Baseball Organization, http://www.juniorbaseballorg.com. Private teams usually form through tryouts in the fall. The East Clark County Baseball Association is one, http://www.eccba.com.
In addition to competitive independent teams, and the programs affiliated with schools, youth basketball is offered through the following organizations:
Battle Ground Community Education, 360-885-6584.
Camas Parks and Recreation, 360-834-5307.
Clark County Family YMCA, 360-885-9622.
Evergreen Community Education (Evergreen Public Schools), 360-604-4082; http://www.egreen.wednet.edu/communityeducation.
HotShots Youth Sports runs basketball leagues for grades 1-6. There are seasons in the fall, winter and spring, http://www.hotshotsyouthsports.org.
Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department, 360-619-1111; http://www.cityofvancouver.us/parks-recreation.
Clark County Chapter of the United States Bowling Congress oversees league play and sanctioned tournaments at the county’s bowling centers. Contact a bowling center, or call 360-694-6348.
Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts
Brave Legion, 14010 N.E. Third Court, Vancouver; 360-574-2400; http://www.bravelegion.com.
The Police Activities League of Vancouver offers a boxing program for ages 8-18. For details, call Executive Director Curtis Kimbrough at 360-487-7487.
Progressive Jiu-Jitsu Mixed Martial Arts, 5909 N.E. 109th Ave, Suite A. http://www.projj.com.
Vancouver Boxing Club: Training for competitive boxers and those interested in boxing for fitness and self-defense. Call Jack Thompson at 360-882-3354.
Amateur Softball Association: The Vancouver Girls Softball Association provides fastpitch leagues for girls up to age 18. Sign-up time is January. 360-699-0664; http://www.vgsafp.org.
Little Leagues: Most area Little Leagues offer softball. See Baseball list above for contact information.
Clark County Youth Football, 360-693-2293; http://www.clarkcountyyouthfootball.com. Tackle football and cheerleading for grades 2-8. Season in the fall.
Southwest Washington Pop Warner Football, 866-257-0466; http://www.swwapopwarner.org. Tackle football and cheerleading for ages 5-14.
Catholic Youth Organization, Vancouver teams for grades 5-8 participate in Oregon leagues; http://www.cyocamphoward.org.
Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department offers a flag football league, 360-619-1111.
Southwest Washington Pop Warner Football, http://www.swwapopwarner.org, offers a winter league.
Catholic Youth Organization, Vancouver teams for grades 3-4 participate in Oregon leagues; http://www.cyocamphoward.org.
Most local courses have programs for youth golfers.
Kids Club Fun & Fitness, 13914 N.W. Third Court, Vancouver, 360-546-5437; http://kidsclubfunandfitness.com.
Naydenov Gymnastics, 5313 N.E. 94th Ave., Vancouver, 360-944-4444; http://www.ngymnastics.com.
Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy, 840 N.W. 10th Ave., Camas, 360-834-7424; http://www.vegagym.com.
Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy North, 6707 N.E. 117th Ave., Suite D, Vancouver, 360-254-7958; http://www.vegagym.com.
Mountain View Ice Arena, 14313 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver; 360-896-8700; http://www.mtviewice.com. Programs for youths in skating, ice dancing, and ice hockey. Open skate for families and speed skating club.
King’s Way Christian School, Vancouver, has a competitive lacrosse program. Middle school and high school students from Clark County are welcome to participate. The boys varsity team plays in the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association in the spring. Visit http://www.kingswaylacrosse.org.Southwest Washington Youth Lacrosse Club: Lacrosse for boys and girls in grades 3-8. http://www.swwashingtonlacrosse.org.
Many local studios offer classes for youths in a variety of martial arts.
Golden Skate, 4915 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver; http://www.goldenskateandlazer.com; 360-696-0368.
In 2011, Vancouver, Battle Ground, Camas and Prairie fielded teams. For update contacts and details, check out Oregon Youth Rugby, http://www.rugbyoregon.com.
Ski resorts in Oregon and Washington offer recreational and ski-racing programs. For ski bus info, check with ski resorts or http://www.vancouverskibus.com.
The main recreation soccer season is in the fall, but spring leagues are available. The Columbia Youth Soccer Federation (http://www.cysfsoccer.org) is the league for most of Vancouver and north Clark County. The East County Youth Soccer Association is the league for Camas, Washougal and parts of east Vancouver.
Competitive youth soccer teams that play statewide in the winter and the summer are formed by Columbia Premier Soccer Club (http://www.cpscsoccer.org), Pacific FC (http://www.pacificfc.org), F.C. Salmon Creek (http://www.salmoncreeksoccer.net/fcsc), Vancouver United Soccer Alliance (http://www.vancouverunited.com), and the Washington Soccer Academy (http://www.fcvancouver.com).
Youth soccer is governed by Washington Youth Soccer (http://www.wsysa.com).
Indoor soccer leagues are available at two indoor arenas in Vancouver: Clark County Indoor Sports Center (360-604-4487); and Salmon Creek Indoor Sports Arena (360-571-7628), as well as through the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department (360-619-1111).
Columbia River Swim Team based at Cascade Athletic Club, 16096 S.E. 15th St., Vancouver; http://www.crstwaveriders.org/Home.jsp?team=oscrst.LaCamas Headhunters, based at LaCamas Swim and Sport in Camas; http://www.lacamassport.com; 360-834-8506.
The Tornadoes, based at Hough Pool in Vancouver, 360-696-8245; http://www.tornadoesswim.org; Tanya Ramsey, 360-667-0381.
Vancouver Swim Club practices at Marshall Center pool, 360-487-7100; http://www.vancouverswimclub.com.
Swimming lessons are available through the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department and at many of the private health clubs in Clark County.
Vancouver Tennis and Racquetball Center is operated by Vancouver Parks and Recreation, 360-696-8123.
Club Green Meadows, 360-256-1510.
Lake Shore Athletic Club, 360-574-1991.
The Columbia Empire Volleyball Association, based in Beaverton, Ore., governs competitive volleyball in Southwest Washington and Oregon, 503-644-7468. To find teams that serve Clark County and Vancouver, visit http://www.columbiaempirevolleyball.com.
For a list of clubs in Washington, visit http://www.washingtonwrestlingreport.com.Askeo International Mat Club: Wrestling club for all ages, 5909 N.E. 109th Ave. Practices are 8-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Damon McPherson, 360-773-3382.
Camas Crocs Wrestling Club: firstname.lastname@example.org; 360-834-6886.
Columbia River Braves Wrestling Club: joe.reed email@example.com; 541-953-9954.
Lord’s Gym Wrestling Club: Program for wrestlers in grades 1-12. Meets 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Ali Batroukh, 360-907-5091.
Southwest Washington Wrestling Club: For all ages. Practices are 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays in the wrestling room at Battle Ground High School. Merle Crockett at 360-263-4947 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stevenson Mat Club in Carson: email@example.com; 509-427-8270.
Facilities and programs
Public organizations that offer youth sports programs include:
Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department, 360-619-1111, http://www.ci.vancouver.wa.us/parks-recreation.
Vancouver Tennis and Racquetball Center, 360-696-8123.
Battle Ground Community Education, 360-885-6584, http://www.bgsd.k12.wa.us/cmd.
Camas Parks and Recreation, 360-834-2362, http://www.ci.camas.wa.us/index.php/parkshome.
Evergreen Community Education, 360-604-4082, http://www.egreen.wednet.edu.
Washougal Community Education, 360-954-3838, http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/districtinfo/communityed.htm.
Sports clubs, facilities and organizations that offer youth sports programs and/or teams:
Clark County Family YMCA, 360-258-3831, http://www.ymca-clarkcounty.org.
Clark County Indoor Sports Center, 360-604-4487, http://www.indoor-sports.com.
Club Green Meadows, 360-256-1510, http://www.clubgreenmeadows.com.
Kids Club Fun & Fitness, 360-546-5437, http://www.kidsclubfunandfitness.com.
Lake Shore Athletic Club, 360-574-1991, http://www.lakeshoreac.com.
Lacamas Swim and Sport, 360-834-8506, http://www.lacamassport.com.
Mountain View Ice Arena, 360-896-8700, http://www.mtviewice.com.
Salmon Creek Indoor Sports Arena, 360-571-7628, http://www.scsoccerarena.com.