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Basketball, softball, soccer and T-ball keep youth busy on every reservation

Sports03Tribal youth don’t have any excuse to laze around and complain there’s nothing to do after school any more. With a new focus on the Seminole Way to Play, the Recreation Department has added an assortment of sports clinics to every reservation, every week.

Children between the ages of 3 and 18 can try out basketball, softball, T-ball, baseball and soccer. The clinics will be held weekly at the same time and taught by the same coaches.

The goal is to create Tribal sports leagues so kids can play against their peers living on other reservations, gain confidence and build camaraderie through healthy competition, said Recreation director Richard Blankenship. Professional instructors teach the sports and will also train parents to be volunteer coaches once leagues are established.

“Sports keep kids out of trouble and help develop conflict resolution and life skills,” Blankenship said. “The Tribe is competitive by nature, and this program plays into that competitive spirit. We want to prepare kids for whatever the next level in their lives will be, whether it’s business, leadership or athletics. Being on a team is like being part of any organization; it’s like life.”

Sweet Rebound basketball has been busy teaching youth the finer aspects of the game while drilling them on technique.

“We’ve seen a lot of improvement already,” said Toccara Williams of Sweet Rebound. “Our goal is to get them playing at the highest level they can and also work on sportsmanship, confidence and attitude.”

Rhino Softball focuses on teaching women’s fast pitch softball. Coach JoAnn Ferrieri has more than 30 years of experience and has coached college and Olympic teams.

“We would like to bring some of the players who have played outside of the rez back onto the rez to play softball,” said Ferrieri, owner of Rhino Softball. “We want to develop athletes, create a competitive league and travel teams. I want to inspire players so they can see what really good softball is and be one of those players.”

Recreation Department staff is teaching T-ball and Lil Ballers Basketball to the youngest athletes and soccer to all youth. Baseball is scheduled to begin in March.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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