Neighborhood Files: This post is part of a series that highlights local neighborhoods in the Southland.
Then soccer or basketball or baseball season rolls around and I remember that our community is what we make of it. And we have found a wonderful community in Palms Recreation Center. We have spent the last 3 years doing sports all school-year round. My boys have played soccer, basketball, and baseball and remarkably it’s been with the same volunteer coach.
A coach who has the patience of Job. This coach started out with just his son’s team and then once his daughter was old enough, he started coaching a second team. Two practices a week, two games a week. Two sets of kids to deal with. Crazy. And he has a full-time job.
But it’s not just the coaches that make the sports teams so great. JR Lebert runs the sports programs and he does it with genuine enthusiasm. It’s because the park is his home. He started doing sports there after school when he was 6. When he was 16, he started working there and then became sports and camp coordinator. That was 12-years ago.
Part of what makes the sports program great is the philosophy; it’s not about winning, it’s about learning good sportsmanship. The teams don’t keep score – well, they aren’t supposed to keep score. The kids usually know who is winning or losing, but the idea is that they are not just there to win, but to learn a skill and how to play the game with respect for themselves and the other players.
“They don’t realize that they are learning skills they’ll have for live,” Lebert said.
But, “it only works if everyone buys into the philosophy,” he said. And most of the parents do. Well, only the ones who come back the next season anyway.
We have come back every season for 3 years and we love it. There are a lot of parents who don’t get it and have asked me “what’s the point if no one wins?”
And it’s that attitude that has kept me away from the other programs. My kids have learned how to play soccer, baseball, and basketball, but more importantly they’ve learned what it means to be a good sport, to respect other kids, and to have fun.
In my opinion, they win every time.