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The US Air Force’s youth sports and fitness programs have won top awards from the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
The Hurlburt Field youth sports program in Florida won one of five Excellence in Youth Sports awards.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Szaban, head of tactical doctrine at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, was selected as the NAYS Coach of the Year.
Technology. Sgt. Jonathon Washington, head of geospatial intelligence at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Was named the NAYS Parent of the Year.

“The way the staff at Hurlburt manage their youth athletic programs is a great role model to follow as they focus on developing well-rounded children who embrace physical activity and understand the importance of a good mind. athleticism, as well as other key characteristics like honesty, integrity and perseverance, ”said Lisa Licata, Senior Director of Professional Administrators at NAYS. “The motto at Hurlburt is ‘fun with purpose.’ So the young people in the program not only enjoy playing sports, but they also learn valuable life skills that will allow them to lead successful lives.”

Over 150 organizations applied for the award of excellence this year. Twenty of them were invited to participate in the final exam. Five other Air Force programs were nominated as finalists: Dyess AFB, Texas; Hill AFB, Utah; Moody AFB, Georgia; RAF Mildenhall, England and Vandenberg AFB, California.

“We, Air Force Child and Youth Programs, are delighted to have won all three awards. This is a first in the history of the Air Force and it really demonstrates the quality of the programming we provide to our children and youth, ”said Patti Mehrens, Chief of the Children and Youth Programs Division of the Air Force. Air Force service activities.

AFSVA oversees Air Force youth programs, providing advice and assistance to program managers. Air Force Youth Programs are nationally accredited, professionally staffed, and certified annually by the Department of Defense.

Youth sports and fitness programs meet the Air Force’s goal of strengthening families and developing ready and resilient ‘A’ Airmen by engaging children, youth, adolescents and their families. families to maintain a healthy lifestyle by providing fitness resources. Youth sports coaches are the foundation of our league sports program. We believe that these coaches, who are trained and certified, are educated on the many different aspects involved in training our children and youth, providing them with a fun, safe and rewarding experience, ”said Mehrens.

Szaban, a 12-year Air Force veteran, is a passionate volunteer in teaching, training and inspiring children to be great not only in sport but also in life, said Licata.

“Over the years he has coached flag and tackle football, track and field, basketball, T-ball, baseball and soccer. His practices are stimulating and filled with pleasure. He insists on the fundamentals, works hard, knows the rules and competes as a team, ”she said. “A devoted husband and father of three, he also finds time to volunteer at a Veterans Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and local schools where he teaches children struggling with their studies. “

Washington is a single father of a teenage daughter and preteen son.

“He tirelessly gives of his time to help children and sports programs in any way he can. He volunteers to help prepare and maintain the base soccer, flag football and baseball fields. He was soccer commissioner last season for the 200 participants in the program, ”said Licata. “He instilled in his children the value of helping others and making a difference in the community, which they embraced by visiting the elderly, reading to young children and participating in clean-up projects. . “

The awards were presented on November 8 at the 16th Annual Youth Sports Congress in Orlando, Florida. The Congress is a four-day educational event for youth sports administrators that includes training to maintain or achieve NAYS certification. NAYS sets national standards for the operation of youth sports programs. The standards include maintaining child-centered policies and philosophies; choose, select and train volunteers; ensure parents provide positive support; and provide a safe playing environment.

Participants include young sports professionals and volunteers; parks and recreation professionals; and the sports directors of young soldiers.

“During our 16th annual NAYS Youth Sports Convention in Orlando, all the winners will be recognized in a special session on November 8, 2017, which will kick off the conference. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to share some of their ideas on stage on how they run their youth sports programs and connect with children that Congress attendees around the world can learn and use on their own. communities, ”Licata said. before the conference.

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