Woodward, Okla. —
As teams prepare to enter a new fall sports season at Kid's Inc., Director Mike Medill shared what else is new with the youth sports organization.
One important new addition is Jeryka Pipins, who joined the organization as the new assistant director on Aug. 1.
Pipins herself played in Kid's Inc. softball, basketball and soccer leagues as a child and is amazed to have the opportunity to once again participate in the organization.
“I never thought I would sit in this chair,” she told The News while sitting behind her new desk in the Kid's Inc. offices.
However, after earning her bachelor's degree in health and sports science with a minor in sports psychology from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva in Dec. 2012, Pipins said she feels her education makes her a good fit for the position.
“I practically wrote the book on it,” she said with a laugh, explaining “I actually had to write a 10-page paper on sports and recreation management.”
KID'S INC. JOINS FACEBOOK
Pipins' addition to the Kid's Inc. staff has also led to other changes in the organization, including a foray into the realm of social media. She started a Kid's Inc. Facebook page.
“Jeryka is catching me up with new technology,” Medill said.
Both Medill and Pipins said the Facebook page is a great way to help keep parents updated on sign-up periods, game schedules, and volunteer opportunities.
“So far it's been a hit,” Pipins said. “Since we're not going to be here on Monday (for Labor Day), I put a post that we would take early sign-ups for basketball and we've already had 5 to 6 girls come up here to register with some of their parents volunteering to be coaches. I think I've already got 3 coaches out of it.”
The Facebook page also helped Pipins find some soccer coaches.
“When we still needed some under-6 coaches, I put it on there (Facebook) and by the end of the day I had all the help I needed,” she said.
Medill said they also plan to use the Facebook page as a way to share photos of Kid's Inc. games and events.
“Hopefully we'll have a picture page so people can go on and see their kids in action,” Medill said.
In addition to the photos that Kid's Inc. staff posts on the page, Pipins said, “I have it set up so if somebody is out here and they post pics from a game it can go on our wall too.”
NEW LOCATION FOR SOCCER FIELDS
Another change at Kid's Inc. this season is the location of the soccer fields.
In the past, the under-6 and under-8 soccer games were typically played in the outfields of the softball diamonds. However, now that work has begun to construct the new softball complex, Medill said they have had to move these games to the baseball 5-plex.
“We've shifted the fields over for a season, but we're really looking forward to having the new softball fields,” he said.
But he expects the move will take some getting used to for parents.
“That's going to be something new with people having to find out where the soccer games are,” he said.
Parents will also have to get used to new parking arrangements that go along with the new field locations, Medill said.
“With the parking situation, parents are going to have to use the parking lots and have to walk a ways instead of just driving up to the fence and watching the games like they used to,” he said.
INCREASE IN SOCCER PARTICIPATION
Medill said an increase in soccer participation will only add to the parking issues.
“We have close to 190 kids playing soccer now,” he said.
There are 4 teams in the under-10 league, with about 18 kids on each team; 5 teams in the under-8 league with around 16 kids each; and 6 teams of at least 6 children each in the under-6 league.
Altogether, Medill said “I think that's up 10, maybe 20 kids, so we have seen an increase in soccer this year.”
As for the reason behind the increase, the Kid's Inc. director said he thinks it is from a combination of factors including population increase and an increase in interest in the sport.
“It's the same thing that the school says about kindergarten and 1st grade enrollment being up. That's the same ages where we're seeing the increase,” Medill said. “There must be a lot of new kids in town because we're seeing an increase like the school.”
But he hopes it is more than just having more kids in town and that it is also a sign of more kids wanting to become more active.
“I think it's good to see this kind of involvement with kids getting out and moving instead of just sitting in front of their computers,” he said.
Pipins said she is also encouraged by the number of children, especially girls, participating in soccer this year.
“I'm excited to see how many kids there are signed up for soccer because when I was a kid, even in high school, it was not really a sport you could play,” she said. “So I'm happy to see it is a growing sport and that there are so many girls in it. I think one of the under-6 teams is almost all girls even and that makes me happy.”
Beyond having more kids participate in soccer, Medill said he is excited that more parents are participating as well.
“If you go to a practice now you'll see 2, 3, 4 parents out there helping. It used to be only the head coach out there,” he said.
In addition he said more parents “get involved by being our flaggers on the sidelines during the games and some with more understanding of the games even volunteer to be referees.”
Medill said he thinks the increase in parental involvement may be because the parents participated in Kid's Inc. themselves as children.
“I think we're hitting that age group of parents who grew up and played soccer out here so they know more about soccer and feel more comfortable about getting involved,” he said.
EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR
However, soccer is just one of the sports getting ready to get under way at Kid's Inc.
The 5th and 6th grade football league will be starting games on Tuesday just as the soccer season kicks off as well.
Also on Tuesday, Pipins said they will officially open registration for the 5th and 6th grade girls basketball teams. Girls will have until Sept. 9 to sign up for the basketball season.
In addition, Tuesday marks the beginning of sign-up for the adult volleyball league. The volleyball sign-ups will continue through Sept. 21.
While everything seems to be happening all at once, Medill and Pipins said they couldn't be more excited.
“We finished up the summer leagues in mid-July so it's been kind of dull the past few weeks,” Medill said, but noted, “the lull is over now and the storm is about ready to begin on Tuesday, which is a good thing.”
He said he is looking forward to “a lot of crowds and excitement, just getting that enthusiasm going again.”
“Once Kid's Inc. starts playing games, half of the town of Woodward is on the east side of town to see the games. I can't wait to see the kids competing and the parents cheering; it beats paperwork and cleaning,” Medill said.
Pipins said she is also looking forward to being around the kids, especially as she will be refereeing under-8 soccer.
For more information about the Kid's Inc. organization or to register for any activity, contact the Kid's Inc. office at 256-6011. And for schedules and other updates, visit www.facebook.com/kidsinc1.