ACC focuses on fundamentals with rec leagues

The Anthem Community Council’s youth recreational leagues focus on individual improvement and discovery over what the scoreboards say.

With the end of the 2021-2022 school year approaching, children in Anthem are anticipating the summer that lies ahead. However, they are not the only ones. The Anthem Community Council is eager to provide children with high quality resources and facilities to stay active, discover passions, and form friendships through recreational sports.

The sports on offer are as follows:

• Pickleball: ages 10 to 14, Tuesday, May 17, to Friday, July 1, or Monday, July 4, to Friday, August 12

• Indoor Floor Hockey, ages 6 to 9, ages 10 to 14, Sunday, June 5, to Sunday, July 3

• Indoor Volleyball, U13, Tuesday, July 5, to Monday, Aug. 22

• Basketball, Coed U6, Coed U8, U10 girls, U10 boys, U13 girls, U13 boys, Monday, May 30, to Monday, July 11

Registration is now open for all sports, except for indoor floor hockey, which will open on Monday, May 30. To register, visit onlineatanthem.com.

On the ACC website, the recreational leagues are described as noncompetitive. This is because the organization wants to put focus on learning and improving one’s skills and understanding over the numbers on the scoreboard. ACC Sports and Fitness Supervisor Bobby St. Pierre said he believes this is a great chance for kids to try something new without the hyper-competitive atmosphere that comes with playing for school or club teams.

“Maybe they play baseball for little league, but want to try soccer this year,” St. Pierre said. 

“So that’s the perfect segue into that, where it’s not that stressful situation. The younger ages are definitely where you get your bang for your buck, if they’re trying to learn the sport or maybe even just progress a little bit. With the older age groups like 8U, 10U, and 13U, it becomes a little more competitive. But we still enforce through our staff, as well as the volunteer coaches and the parents, that the score at the end does not matter. It’s more about learning the sport or whatever program we’re offering. From there, build a skill set and some life skills from it. Make a couple friends along the way and have some fun.”

The ACC relies heavily on volunteer help to keep the games up and running. Because of that, the organization makes a serious effort to find worthwhile volunteers and give them the tools to succeed.

“In order to become a volunteer, you have to go through a background check first,” St. Pierre said. 

“That’s through Anthem. Then, our HR department runs it, and they use a third party for that to make sure everything’s safe and secure. After that, they come on. I would say, the last couple of years, we’ve kind of had the same coaches. But, we do sometimes do a preseason coaches meeting to go over practices, games, what we expect from coaches, and coaching etiquette. Trying to not compete to win, but compete on the side of making everyone better, making sure everyone has fun.”

The ACC also hands out practice packets at the beginning of each season to coaches who may need extra guidance on how to run a practice effectively.

“They don’t necessarily have to use them,” St. Pierre said. “But, it’s more of a guideline on how to run practice, drills, skills, and fundamentals that we want to be taught. So, the games are competitive with the other teams and stuff along those lines.”

Although the leagues are noncompetitive, the ACC still strives to create a relatively level playing field for all players that are involved. The organization uses a program called CivicRec to assemble the teams that will play one another.

“Our software allows us to put prompts in there,” St. Pierre said. “We try to fulfill everybody’s special request. So, whether it be ‘I want Coach Bobby,’ or ‘I want to be on Bobby’s team,’ or ‘I can only practice Tuesday or Thursday because I have cheer, dance, or another extracurricular activity the other days,’ we really try to fulfill everyone’s needs so that they’re happy and it works for everyone.”

From there, organizers will attempt to balance teams to ensure that each has a similar number of players, and each player is given equal playtime throughout the season.

St. Pierre said he believes that the ACC’s dedication in finding quality volunteers and providing a fair playing field will make kids come back for more.

“It kind of goes back to that retention factor of making sure everyone has fun,” St. Pierre said. “Making sure everyone develops and learns life skills as well as sports skills. Hopefully at the end when everything’s wrapped, they’ll want to come back and progress with us.”