By Randy Dela Cruz, Sports Editor, Ho‘okele
If your child is interested in sports but isn’t quite sure what he or she wants to get into, then Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) is the place to be.
Throughout the years, Joint Base Morale, Welfare and Recreation Youth Sports has catered a smorgasbord of activities to encourage children at JBPHH to get active, and this year is no different.
Besides seasonal sports such as baseball, basketball, flag football, volleyball, junior team tennis, track and field and soccer, MWR Youth Sports offers year-round activities that includes First Tee (golf) and gymnastics to go along with camps and clinics.
“It’s very exciting,” said Jim Cosper, MWR Youth Sports director. “Our numbers are growing, and as new members come on base it’s great that we have all of these opportunities for them.”
While youth sports already covers the interest of most children on base, Cosper said that he is continually on the lookout for ways to reach more families.
Currently, MWR Youth Sports is holding signups for fastpitch softball for ages 9-12, and Cosper is already thinking of additional offerings for 2016.
“We’re trying to get softball started and right now we have an interest list,” he said. “We’d also like to get cheer started. Cheer would be great if we could get that off the ground and running. I know other bases have it and we do have a high demand for it also, so we’re looking to start that in the fall of next season.”
With so many programs available, Cosper said that he couldn’t think of a better way to help support troops and their families.
Not only do these programs provide family time for the base’s Airmen and Sailors, but it also offers them a chance to give back to their comrades.
“It’s very rewarding, but it’s not the staff that works here, it’s the volunteers that make the program,” he said. “With volunteers, parents, the children themselves, it really does help to make it a great program here on joint base. We are very fortunate to have volunteers step up and make this the program that it is.”
The amount of volunteers has helped MWR Youth Sports break ground into other ventures to keep meeting the needs of military families.
Recently, youth sports has reached out to kids as young as 3 years old with their Peewee Sports program.
“Peewee has four components,” Cosper said. “We have soccer, baseball, basketball and flag football. Peewee would be for motor-skill development and once you hit five, you can progress into team sports.
“It seems every season there is more demand for that age group to get the children more actively involved in athletics. We hope that parents choose to put them on that path. They get to be with children their age and get to have formal instruction on the sport that they would be possibly playing in the future.”
As Cosper looks beyond 2015, he said that he wishes that the Army would join the Hawaii Military Youth Athletic Association, where joint base and Marine Corps Base Hawaii have been members for past few years.
An alliance with all of Oahu’s military bases, he said, would offer kids more interaction and experience within their sport of choice.
If parents are wondering about enrolling their children, Cosper said stop by the office or call MWR Youth Sports at 473-0789.
“We’re not out there looking for the all-stars,” he stated. “We want those that have never played the activity and we want to develop those children. If I were to introduce parents and their child to the program, I would say take the leap. We’re affordable. Speak to your neighbors. I guarantee they are involved in one way or another. Please join us.”
For more information, visit the MWR Great Life Hawaii website.