ARVADA, Colo. — Whether a sibling, neighbor or local high schooler, many athletes get involved in sports after watching someone older.
That's the inspiration behind the Arvada Youth Sports camp, now it its third year. The sports initiative was created in hopes of motivating local elementary school students to get involved with athletics at a young age.
"Our overall philosophy of our athletic department is we benefit those who we serve, and our community is who we serve," Arvada High School athletic director Dan Quaratino said. "We wanted to give back to our kids at the younger level."
"It's also a great way for us to reach out to our feeder schools, to the kids who don't have the means to be in club sports," Arvada High School soccer coach Neil Magor added. "They can come here, and this is free to them."
The week-long camp allowed local elementary school students to choose from a variety of sports, including football, soccer, basketball, softball/baseball, wrestling and cheerleading. The high school coaches worked as the camp supervisors, while their student-athletes helped run the kids through the drills and games.
"As a little kid, you always look at the bigger kids and say, 'Hey, I want to be like that,' Arvada High School football coach Glemon Allmon said. "I love it when my boys come out and give instructions and work on drills to help little kids feel comfortable in playing whatever sport."
The camp organizers say more than 90 percent of the students who participated in the youth sports camp this year had never played organized sports before. It's a trend they often see continue up to the high school level, with many of the more competitive athletes choosing to open-enroll into other Jeffco schools.
"A lot of the kids [in our community] don't participate in athletics until they come to us," Quaratino said. "The big thing for us as we start building this is, kids are starting to see that they're having fun, but the high school is also here to support them, and more importantly, that we care."
More than 230 kids were signed up for this year's camp. Arvada High School hopes that attendance will continue to grow through the coming years.
"I think [the camp] helps them develop a passion for sports, and understand the competition," Magor said. "[It gives them] a little bit of thirst to get out there and compete with their buddies."
"We're also building in the educational piece of leadership, not only for the young kids, but our high school kids too, to give them an opportunity to showcase who they can become," Quaratino added.