Passion is key to sports alliance success
Virginia Holmes, Director of the Warren Youth Development and Sports Alliance, believes in teamwork.
It is with that attitude and her belief in the benefits of recreational programming that she developed the alliance. “It was just my own idea,” Holmes said adding that all of the youth leagues and sport organizations should be working together.
Since the city of Warren does not have a parks and recreational department, the task of providing athletic and social outlets for the city’s youth fell on its residents. Each of the different organizations were pulling for the same kids and vying for the same funding, Holmes said.
“If they would grasp the concept of working together, they would have so much more to work with,” Holmes said.
And bringing the organizations together is exactly what Holmes is doing. The Alliance brings together youth sports and recreational activities under one umbrella. The Warren Grid Iron Club serves as a fiscal agent for the Alliance.
Holmes applied for a Neighborhood SUCCESS grant from The Raymond John Wean Foundation to fund a leadership training event. The event offered training for volunteer coaches and featured Youngstown State University coaches offering one-on-one training with volunteers for each sport.
The Foundation also awarded Holmes a grant for administrative training.
Holmes has many goals for the future of the organization. The most important for her is to establish a board and find funding. With the funding she would like to build a playground or an outdoor pool for the city.
Her passion for organizing these efforts is in the benefits for the youth. The programming offered builds on physical activity and social skills. She said the activities offer children the chance to interact with their classmates that they normally would not and get to know each other better. Through that interaction, Holmes hopes to improve relations within the community.
“Parents are the catalyst now,” she said. The activities offered encourage parent participation with their children.
And the feedback about the program has been positive Holmes said. The cheerleading league recently attended a competition in Pennsylvania. Out of the 26 girls who went, 24 parents came along. Holmes stressed the importance of parent participation and was pleased with the amount of parent interest in cheerleading.
The Alliance also works to increase minority involvement in several sports including swimming, golf and soccer.
As for Holmes’ plans for the future, she said, “If you engage enough people, that passion will pass on.”