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Future of sports in the SCV: Youth numbers are strong

Lower levels of Santa Clarita Valley sports continue to either grow or hold steady in participation

Posted: July 20, 2010 9:41 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

Over the past two decades, the popularity of youth sports has grown immensely.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, that trend shows no signs of slowing down in the future.

Numbers are either up or holding steady with youth programs across the valley, from the traditional fan favorites to rising sports.

“The sports that I would say are huge in this valley are football, baseball and basketball,” says Rett Hicks, the football director and 13-year member of the Santa Clarita Valley Athletic Association Warriors. “I know lacrosse has popped up, along with hockey. Our association has track and field, cross country, cheer … I haven’t seen a decline in any of those sports.”

In fact, track and field is one of the sports that has grown the most in recent years.

The Santa Clarita Storm Track Club had 337 athletes between four different age groups this year, according to club president Alan Bingham.

The club participates in the Valley Youth Conference, which used to have a limit of 275 athletes per program. But the conference set aside the rule this year, which allowed clubs like Storm to increase its participation.

“Our track and field team had 337 athletes on it this year, and we expect our cross country program to also grow this year,” Bingham says.

One reason that youth track and field could continue to grow is the number of different events, which means more opportunities for participation.

“There’s so many different avenues where they can compete,” Bingham says. “Another thing that makes it attractive at first is that the cost of the sport is relatively inexpensive.”

While other sports require more equipment, Hicks says it’s something they often address.

“What we do is build in scholarships for families that can’t afford football,” he says. “That number has grown the last couple of years.”

The numbers for soccer have skyrocketed over the past couple of decades, and now they seem to have steadied.

“We’re almost even for what we had last year,” says John Cox, commissioner of the Amateur Youth Soccer Organization’s Region 46 in Saugus. “I think for the most part all the local regions stayed about the same.”

Local baseball and softball are also holding steady, although the question has changed from how many kids are out to who they’re playing for.

According to William S. Hart Baseball League president Paul Silveri, some of the players are catching on with travel ball teams, especially in softball.

“They’re not playing at the league level as much as Hart or Little League,” Silveri says. “They’re looking for what they perceive as a higher level of play.”

Still, Silveri says there are still plenty of kids out for baseball and softball in the Santa Clarita Valley.

That seems to be the trend.

That seems like it’s going to continue.

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