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USOC Looks to Enhance Best Practices in Youth Sport Development Programs

April 17, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
The United States Olympic Committee is hostin the first annual PLAYS (Pipeline Leadership for American's Youth Sports) Conference April 16-18 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Over the course of the three-day conference, PLAYS will focus on creating and implementing strategies and action plans regarding youth sport development with a concentration on long term athlete development. The discussions will incorporate best practices for sport programming, parents, coaches, volunteers, ethics, diversity and community engagement. PLAYS is a proactive approach towards generating a standard philosophy regarding youth sport development at the grass roots level and beyond. PLAYS strives to bring together national and international experts in the field to share their knowledge, such as members from National Governing Bodies, youth sport administrators and advocates for enhancing youth sport programs. PLAYS also aspires to challenge participants through active presentations, breakout sessions and engaging with each other to construct creative and innovative ways of developing and enhancing youth sports programs."The USOC is thrilled to host the first PLAYS Conference with youth sport experts from around the country and abroad,"states Alicia McConnell, Director, Athlete Services and Programs."The goal of the PLAYS Conference is to start a conversation around 'how can we enhance the positive influences of sport today and lessen the negative'' This is just the beginning of the conversation and the U.S. Olympic Committee hopes to continue to engage those interested in building the philosophy that youth sport is about teaching life skills and healthy habits, team work, creating opportunities, building friendships and is fun. It is not just about winning."Each day the PLAYS Conference will provide interactive group discussions and dynamic lectures on developing successful outreach programs, as well as creating new strategies for recruitment, athlete retention and multi-cultural awareness. Lead facilitator Pam Shipp will introduce the concept of"everyday creativity, which looks at reframing problems into opportunities and exploring for more than one right answer. Creativity can be the ability to look at the ordinary and see_the extraordinary. Featured speakers include Dan Gould of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, and Istvan Balyi of the National Coaching Institute of Canada. Six time Olympic Games medalist, Jackie Joyner-Kersee will provide the keynote presentation, discussing the role youth sport programs played in her success as an elite athlete. For more information, please contact Athlete Services and Programs at (719) 866-4607. Visit out registration site at PLAYS2008.
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