By Jay Sutton, Executive Director and YMCA Youth Sports Leader

When I began my work with the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina about a year ago, I transitioned from 20 years of playing and working in Division I college athletics. I found myself refreshed and reenergized at the focus and philosophy of YMCA sports.

Having grown up playing and then spending the majority of my career in sports, I know firsthand the impact they can have on a young person’s development. But as beneficial as sports can be for a young person – building confidence, commitment and a sense of teamwork – sports can also damage kids when not used to build positivity.

IMG_7419There are so many benefits of organized sports at the Y. We have designed a program where all skill levels are welcome and teams are balanced, yet competitive. We draw attention to the life lessons that can be found on the court or field. And we encourage and nurture transferrable skills such as leadership and sportsmanship.

While many staff members, like myself, are incredibly passionate about the impact youth sports can have a child. We are also proud of the dedicated volunteer coaches who serve as role models and ambassadors of the game while providing an encouraging and fun environment.

While highly competitive sports like basketball and volleyball were founded at the Y, the focus is always a healthy balance of competition and development of the whole person. One thing we emphasize each and every game is to keep winning in perspective. As adults, we have a tendency to focus of win/loss record. As a father and as a leader of our YMCA sports programs, I keep a list of the three most important things to say to your child after a game:

girl tball baseball“I love you.”

“I love to watch you play.”

“What do you want to eat?”

Those moments after a game are critical. Don’t say, “why did you do that?” or “you messed up.” Sports are about so much more than whether you win or lose – it’s about the person your child becomes in the process.

We hope to see you this season! Spring sports registration is going on now through February 11. Visit to register online or see what’s available at a Y near you.


Sponsored by the YMCA of Northwest NC