Presenting the AKA Summer Staff

I can never truly speak about AKA programming without mentioning the Staff!  This phenomenal Staff, for over 12 summers now, is what I believe sets AKA apart from other youth sports programs. 

This year over 70%!! of our summer staff is returning from last summer for more fun than ever.  Not to mention the addition of some incredibly gifted teachers, graduate students, college athletes and high school captains, we are truly blessed to have such a strong group to work with all these kids across 3 summer locations.

In this BLOG entry are your 2017 Summer Staff Directors.  You can find the entire list of AKA Staff via our ABOUT > STAFF link

Thanks to all...  let's have another amazing summer!

Dean Downs: All Sports Camp & Speed of Play Development and Entertainment

Melissa Elsen: Site Supervisor, Coon Rapids and AKA Field Trip Coordinator

Melissa is a graduate of St. Cloud State where she earned a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Science. She completed a Master's degree through the University of Cincinnati in Curriculum and Instruction and currently teaches 6th Grade in the Hopkins School District. Originally from Coon Rapids, this will be her third summer with AKA! Melissa's favorite sport to play is Sand Volleyball, but her favorite AKA field trip is the Twins game because she loves to watch baseball- and see all the campers on the jumbo-tron! She especially loves the AKA Opening Ceremonies Week because she gets to meet all the new campers and introduce a variety of activities in the same week.
Melissa doesn't give herself much down time. At the end of every summer, she walks 60 miles in 3 days to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Melissa has personally raised over $10,000 and walked over 300 miles!

Brittany Mcnab:  Site Supervisor, Blaine & Centennial

Originally from Dubuque, Iowa, Brittany now lives in Minneapolis and is headed into her 6th summer as an AKA Coach. Her favorite week is Ice Sports because she loves being on the ice. Brittany played hockey through high school and on a club team at the U of MN while earning her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Elementary Education. During the school year she teaches second grade in Fridley.
A couple of fun facts about Brittany-  she did an internship in Australia and taught physical education to elementary students. If you have trouble spotting Brittany at camp you might find her mixed in with the campers as she has been the same height since 6th grade! 

Krista Lande: Program Director, Centennial

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Krista is back for her third summer coaching with AKA! She played volleyball through high school, but loves AKA Soccer week because so many of the kids enjoy it and she loves watching their talent and excitement! Krista truly gets her energy from the kids-her favorite AKA field trip is Como Zoo because she love to see the campers excitement while looking at the different animals.

Originally from Brooklyn Park, Krista is currently attending The University of Minnesota Duluth as an Education major. She will be student teaching in the Robbinsdale School District in the Fall and will graduate Spring 2018.

A fun fact about Krista- she has a new puppy named Lanee!

Kelly Besst:  Program Director, Coon Rapids

Kelly is headed into her third summer with AKA and every year she looks forward to taking the kids on the Twins and Saints game field trips. Fastpitch softball is her favorite sport- she's been involved with it since Little League! During camp she loves Archery week because the kids get to try something new and different. 
Kelly is currently a student at St. Catherine University in St. Paul pursuing a Dietetics major. She is on track to graduate Spring 2019. 
If you are looking for Kelly on the weekends you will probably find her spending time with her corgi, watching Captain America movies and cooking healthy meals! 

Matt Smith: Program Director, Blaine


Matt is headed into his 4th year as an AKA Coach and loves Soccer week. He has played as long as he can remember and loves teaching the kids new skills or helping them improve their game. He still remembers his first day at AKA and knew as soon as he met the kids and other coaches that it was going to be a perfect fit. His favorite field trip is the Canoe Trip down the St. Croix which is back for summer 2017!

Matt is currently a senior at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and will be graduating this Spring with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing with a Minor in Psychology. 

A fun fact about Matt- Jimmy Neutron is still one of his favorite TV shows!

Mckaela Bormann: Assistant Director, Blaine

Coach Mckaela is going into her 7th summer with AKA!  What's not to like about Mckaela as she greets the kids in the early morning and screams with the kids down the most hair raising rides at Valley Fair!  Outside of AKA, Mckaela is working hard getting her degree in Cosmetology and you can often find her in the evenings helping customers at Ulta in Roseville. 

Mo Almeala: Assistant Director, Blaine & AKA After School Lead Staff

Coach Mo, in only his second year, has been a leader in the AKA After School initiative and will again be a Camp lead at the AKA NSC All Sports Camp. 
Mo's favorite pastimes are making dinner for his mom & dad, playing basketball with all his heart despite getting worked by Coach Chris and of course listening to his favorite classic piano jams.  Mo is in the middle of his college career studying finance at Carlson School of Management at the U of MN.  Way to go Mo!!

The True Greatness of March Madness

For years my AKA March Madness newsletters have been loaded with slam dunk highlights or whacky tournament game endings, Gopher and Badger rah rah and NCAA Tournament bracket buster bewilderment.  But the real messages that deserve to be highlighted are those of character development through sport.  No, seriously!

Take for example Geno Auriemma, who will go down as the greatest college women's basketball coach and who has recently gone viral again having voiced such a worthy character message that I wish I would have listened to when I was younger.  

Au contraire mon frère... Make no doubt about it, my mom and dad tried to instill this message and many other character messages into me through countless attempts of sit downs and car rides but I think it is fare to say I, like many 'know it all' youth athletes, was difficult to understand and truly respect how important these messages all were.  

My hope today is that you share these type of viral messages, these video press conferences and lessons with your kids in sport and that once again, sport matters!  Parenting of the modern social media era... you can't go wrong!

Enjoy the Madness of March! 

All the best, Good People.

Why Afterschool Programs Win

Education is a tool that can overcome a lot of hurdles.  – NFL Hall of Famer and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Alan Page

Thanks Alan.  To borrow this and to take it a step further, education by way of enriching #afterschool programs and extracurricular activities is an essential tool that can overcome a lot of hurdles!

To put in macro terms, today over 11.3 million children are on their own afterschool*.  And in Minnesota, 25% (219,277) of K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves after school.  15% (136,041) of Minnesota's K-12 children participate in afterschool programs, including 11,647 kids in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to afterschool. *Thank you for the simple facts and for all the awareness you bring to this agenda. 

To put in more personal, understandable terms, let me remind you why after school programs are so important.


                AKA AFTERSCHOOL

  • Provides kids with the proper environments to make smart, healthy and educational choices.
  • Keeps kids safe and out of trouble.
  • Gives students resources and tools to achieve through reading, writing, arts & crafts, and in AKASPORT’s view – exercise and free play alongside positive mentorship
  • Supports working parents
  • Broadens horizons – outlook on mentorship, importance of teamwork and giving back.

Active Kids Association of Sport, yes, AKASPORT, is currently operating afterschool programming in 9 schools this winter and spring in 3 school districts in Minnesota.  (Anoka-Hennepin School District #11, Minneapolis Public School District #1, and Spring Lake Park Public District #16) This programming, along with our AKA All Sports Summer Camps, are the 2 major pillar programs that AKASPORT operates year round.

As the uncertainties of federal funding and competing budget agenda priorities grow, it is vital that we grow awareness of the importance of afterschool programming for schools with lower to middle and even higher income families.  Just imagine what all those 11.3 million and growing number of kids would be doing without these safe and enriching afterschool environments.

When we ask our AKA afterschool participants at Lucy Laney Elementary in North Minneapolis what their favorite part of the day is each class, the majority response is quick to call out, “After School class”.  Take it from these kids…these programs are so important to the outlook of their full day. 

AKA Afterschool Multi-Sports at Lucy Craft Laney @ Cleveland Park Community School in North Minneapolis, February 2017, with AKA Coaches (L-R) Mo, India & Austin

AKA Afterschool Multi-Sports at Lucy Craft Laney @ Cleveland Park Community School in North Minneapolis, February 2017, with AKA Coaches (L-R) Mo, India & Austin

For the past 8 years, AKASPORT has provided Fall, Winter and Spring multi-sport afterschool programs that run 60-90 minutes of fitness and sports. Our ultimate goal is to further enhance this fitness and sports model to that which combines with more academic tutoring and education.  The structure at Lucy Laney provides for 45 minutes of afterschool homework and tutoring followed by 60 minutes of fitness and sports with AKA.  Simple, effective and a proven highlight of the kids day.  Let us raise awareness for the importance of these quality programs and find the ways and means to secure more resources to further this tutoring/fitness model in more schools and districts across the country.

Thank you to the Timberwolves Foundation and Allina Health for recent contributions to supporting our programs and thank you all for reading and for all of your support.


Keep it Simple... People are Awesome 2016!!

Happy Holidays to all of you!  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, Happy Bodhi Day (past), Peace and Happy New Year to all of my Muslim friends and of course how could I forget...Happy Festivus.  Whoever you are, wherever you are... I wish you good health, peace and you all!

Rather than going too deep as I can do from time to time in Blogging mode... let's keep it simple, topshelf ..... this is the season to keep it simple and rejoice!  It's been a difficult year for many to fully absorb so all I want to do is slow down, say thank you and wish you peace and happiness with family and friends this Holiday Season.

Reflect on all the good times and events from '16 and let's move on into a greater '17.

Sports Highlights of 2016...who remembers...

  • Peyton riding off into the sunset with his 2nd Super Bowl Ring
  • Lebron bringing Cleveland an NBA Championship
  • Rio Olympics brought us more history, most notably with Michael Phelps (23rd GOLD medal) and Usain Bolt (9th Track & Field GOLD medal)
  • Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years!!
  • And to all the inspiring sportsmanship stories of 2016.
  • How could I leave out People are Awesome 2016. 

Keep the list going...What Highlights did I miss?  Ready go!!.....

Thank you to all of you wonderful parent's and KIDS!!  Your support, participation and positive outlook for active health and sports programs is essential to our future.

Lastly a big thanks to all of my AKA Staff, especially to Renee Beaman for all her great work with AKA events, outreach and social media support.  We cannot do this without all of you!!

Stay healthy, kind!!, and active.  God Bless you all!


40 tips for a better life 12 months ago

This entry began by chance.  Spontaneous fortune.  One of those moments where you go back through time and revisit your goals and aspirations written down from countless years ago. 

I started writing journal entries and ideas, collected notes and emails years ago thanks to the encouragement of a few close friends.  Thanks to that subtle nudge to write down the thousands of thoughts and ideas in my life (mostly sports and music), I was able to fully comprehend and build what is AKASPORT.  Starting with a simple mission surrounded by an abundance of programs and events that is moving forward into more than an idea for Keeping Kids Active but into a successful business organization thanks to incredible people.  I am now hooked for life thanks to my notes.  It truly is never too late to start journal writing and building your dream.

So last week with the presidential election and all the unrest and uncertainty that came with it (not to mention Fear for thousands more), I sought out where I was at 8 years ago prior to President Obama’s victory.  And through this particular journal, I found a saved and folded a print out from an email titled 40 tips for a better life 12 months ago.  It was one of those ‘pass it on and good fortune will come’ kind of emails. 

For today’s AKASPORT Blog entry, I thought it was worth sharing.  Let’s move forward from last week’s results and stay positive focusing on self-betterment and love for all.  What is on this list is a simple, timeless recipe for a better life.

Hopefully you’ve made it this far…if so, thanks for reading!

40 tips for a better life 12 months ago(timeless...from 2008)

  1. 10-30 minute walk every day.  And while you walk, smile.  It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
  2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.  (Dated with a :))
  4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, ‘My purpose is to ___ today.’
  5. Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
  6. Play more games and read more books than you did 2007.
  7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi and prayer.  They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
  8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
  9. Dream more while you are awake.
  10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  11. Drink green tea and plenty of water.  Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
  12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.
  14. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.  Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.  (*Revisit Breakfast and Lunch research)
  17. Smile and laugh more.   It will keep the energy vampires away.
  18. Life isn’t fair…but it’s still good.
  19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  20. Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
  21. You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to (!) disagree.
  22. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  23. Don’t compare your life to others’.  You have NO idea what their journey is all about.
  24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words:  ‘In five years, will this matter?’
  26. Forgive everyone for everything.
  27. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  28. God heals almost everything.
  29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  30. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends will.  Stay in touch!
  31. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  32. Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.
  33. The best is yet to come.
  34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  35. Do the right thing!
  36. Call your family often.  (Or email them!!!)
  37. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:  I am thankful for _____.  Today I accomplished _______
  38. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
  39. Enjoy the ride.  Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don’t want a fast pass.  You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.
  40. Please forward this to everyone you care about.  (Classic 2008)

Let me know if you remember this one. 
Let me know what you would add to this and for talking points, considering this piece is timeless, what details did you catch that could be updated? 
Or which ones hit closest to home and are your favorites?

Or if you know where this came from and who wrote it, please let me know.  Spread it round!

Thanks for taking the time.  What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us.  Here’s wishing you all the best, TODAY and EVERY DAY, EACH DAY, TAKE ONE AT A TIME TOWARDS A BETTER TOMORROW.  All the best,  CS