Youth sports get help from United Fund

Published 1:50 am Saturday, October 10, 2009

Alex Evans has been playing soccer since he was 4. He is from Andalusia.

Victoria Veasey started playing soccer when she was 4. She is from the Straughn community.

The two are a part of more than 1,500 participants in the area’s youth sports program, which includes swimming, soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, softball and basketball.

Sports are an important part of a child’s growth — learning to follow directions, how to work as a team and providing much needed exercise.

Those who participate in the youth sports come from all areas of the county — Red Level, Straughn, Andalusia, Pleasant Home, Florala, Opp and all parts in between.

“That’s the great thing about youth sports,” said Barbara Tyler of Andalusia’s Department of Leisure Services. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. It’s just about how much you want to play and what you want to play.”

Evans said he has known Veasey for “forever” after going through the youth sports program together. He has since transitioned out of the youth sports program to a soccer travel team.

“I’ve played every sport there is out there,” Evan said. “If we had hockey, I’d give that a try, but soccer is my favorite.

“As for playing in the program, you get to meet people and make friends with people you wouldn’t normally get to know since they didn’t go to your school,” he said. “To me, that’s the best thing — other than getting to play.”

Veasey has now traded her soccer ball for swim goggles, as she moved on to compete in swimming. She said she loves the competitiveness of the sport.

“I love sports period,” she said. “I especially liked soccer because I could see my Andalusia friends while we played — the same thing for swimming. I’m just disappointed we can’t swim all year around. I think we could be really good if there was some place we could practice our dives.”

Tyler said the swim team now travels to Opp to make use of Mizell Memorial Hospital’s Wellness Center pool.

“That’s the whole spirit behind youth sports — the spirit of cooperativeness,” she said. “We do what we can to make this the best experience for our children. And as you know, participating in sports is expensive on both our front and for the parents. That’s why it’s so important for people to contribute to United Fund. They help us provide a great sports experience for our area’s children.”