Fall is a great time for the parent who is a sports fan. Baseball pennant races are heading down the stretch, college and pro football teams are playing meaningful games and even hockey and basketball are starting their training camps.
It's an equally exciting time for our young athletes. High schools and middle schools have their own football, soccer, poms and cheer squads and even the smallest athletes have a chance to play sports in a multitude of private or park district organizations.
One such organization has a great program going on in the northern suburbs. AYSO, or American Youth Soccer Organization, is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this season and showcasing the right way for our children to participate in youth sports.
AYSO prides itself on two things that set it apart from other youth sports organizations. One, it is an all volunteer-run organization, which means that the whole family can get involved and enjoy some time outdoors on those crisp Saturday and Sunday afternoons. From coaching to team parents (the ones who make the all-important snack schedule!) to refereeing to lining the fields, everything is done by parent volunteers and there is always a job that fits one's strengths.
The second thing that makes AYSO special is its commitment to fairness. The founding philosophies of AYSO include Everyone Plays and Good Sportsmanship. Simply put, unlike other club and travel soccer programs, AYSO believes that ALL children should play at least a half of every game and that the emphasis should be on fun and fair play- not winning at all costs.
It's a great, positive twist on youth sports and one that the whole family can participate in. There are plenty of AYSO regions in various towns and many of them are still have open registration not just for the fall but the spring season also. Below are links to some of the northern suburbs' regions.
Mundelein http://ayso372.org/ This region has programs for Under 5 players through Under 14 players, a model VIP (Very Important Player) program for special needs players, Toddler Jamborees a few times every season, a charter high school program that serves the whole North Shore, an Extra Travel Soccer program and even a coed, recreational adult league! It serves Mundelein, Vernon Hills, Libertyville, Hawthorn Woods, Lincolnshire, Wauconda, Volo and the surrounding area.