Year-Round Sports... "Our priorities are out of whack"

#YouthSports   #FamilyFirst   #ChangingtheGameProject   #AKAWay

So eloquently put, I couldn't say it any better with a chagrined smirk.  "Our priorities are out of whack", said local reputable hockey coach Bill Lechner, head boys hockey coach at Hill-Murray High School.  Good call Coach.

If you read the Star Tribune this past Sunday or you follow anything sports related in Minnesota news or social media, there's the strong possibility that you saw Joe Christensen's article in Sunday's paper, Part I : Game On and On : Year-Round sports push kids to the limit. 

Part I : Game on and on
Year-round sports push kids to limit by Joe Christensen, Star Tribune
Families are pouring in more time and money — and more athletes are burning out

This one is not so much about the safety or health repercussions of sport specialization, rather the emotional and financial burdens of the topic. 

“You see families that can’t afford to buy groceries, but they’ll somehow find a way to get a thousand-dollar pair of skates and get to New York,” Lechner said. “It scares me; our priorities are out of whack.”

In youth sports, these are the stories necessary to forward on to the masses for their outcry of change needed before its too late.  Read it if you have a chance.  Here are the reminders and nuggets that stuck out to me from the article.

  • By age 12, (softball) (for article subject, Kali) turned into a "chore"
  • Devouring (kids & families) free time
  • Youth Sports is now an estimated $15 Billion a year industry (*and if you didn't see HBO's recent Real Sports Special : Youth Sports Inc., see below)
  • 2% (!!) of High School athletes get some form of college scholarship
  • Specialized athletes are 50% more likely to suffer lower body injuries (okay so they do sneak in some physical / health repercussion statistics)

If I may come clean...  I never want to disrupt the excitement of sports participation for a kid and his family of following a dream, much less disrupt their path to enjoyment whether that be playing hockey or basketball or... fishing, all year round.  I coach year round soccer players.  I see it first hand and I get it.  And as my parents did for me, parents you love and support your kids with everything that excites their heart.  Listen if you have the means to support your kids, you do it.  But........ 

...... It feels as though we have completely forgotten how to show our kids, to get our kids and to support our kids how to play, how to train, how to have fun playing sports on their own with friends and neighborhood buddies without spending the 10s of thousands of dollars and countless hours of pressurized training to get there.  How difficult is it to bring back "backyard games" or the "go get on your bike and meet up at the park or the courts with your buddies.  Is it possible?  Have we gone to the point of no return?!  "I don't know how you're going to reverse it", says Totino Grace activities director Mike Smith. Mike's right, what's it going to take?

My folks got taken by a college recruiting service when I was a senior in HS but fortunately that was for no more than $1,000.  They didn't know better.  They wanted to support my passion.  They also put me in off-season tennis and round the year soccer but that was a fraction of what these clubs make you pay today not too mention was an absolute blast without all the pressure. 

But how can you fault those parents who want to support their kids advancing in their passion.  You can't.  Just be smart about it.  Sports are so insanely glamorized its ridiculous.  I should know, I'm an everyday customer.  And with television advertising and social media so stuck to kids and aspiring athlete's eyes every minute of the day, why wouldn't we be drawn into wanting the bigger, faster, stronger, BETTER formula within year-round training to get to the top.

'95 Neenah Soccer State Bound...  No pressure, just a blast!

'95 Neenah Soccer State Bound...  No pressure, just a blast!

Again, I never want to tell you what you are doing is wrong as a parent supporting your kids in youth sports.  Most of you have been a part of sports for as just as long as I have and frankly, who am I to say I am right.  But I ask that you take the time to talk to your kids. Know what's out there and who and why you are paying for it. And do your research!  Talk to your trusted coaches and get the truth!  Is my kid college ball material??  Play with them as much as you can when they are young and take the time to talk to them about what they like and don't like and where they want to go with sports.  Be honest, have compassion, but above all, truly hear your kids out and support them with their interests.  There are a lot of sports clubs and training groups out there that see this only for the money.  So watch out! 

More literature is on the way.  Let's stay tuned and educated and rework our priorities within the household. Thanks Joe.  Really looking forward to more of these stories. 

***See also...

2016 AKA Summer Wrap

What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us.  And when we bring what is within, out in to the world...Miracles Happen!


2016 AKA All Sports Camp - Unforgettable! 
(be sure to see the AKA Summer video at the bottom)

We had an incredible summer.  We really did.  For me, personally, what comes to mind is the pace at which AKA programs move, how quickly the summers go and how much these kids are able to play and grow. 

As I've said before, AKA is not for everyone (though I wish it were) so I will not stop until I can provide it in a comfortable setting for everyone.  I believe sport is and forever will be the perfect vehicle to promote active lifestyles, provide life long memories and to teach so many of life's important lessons.

AKA summers are intense in pace and jam packed with activity for all who take part. Through the countless hours of instruction, games and making new friends, my goal remains to keep everyone safe, everyone active and above all everyone having fun!  (did I mention the video below?!)


Throughout the 2016 AKA summer, many mastered the cartwheel, many broke wooden boards, we all conquered the upper deck of Target Field and we made countless friendships with kids and staff.  We all took part in the Summer Olympics, 14 theme sports and countless games and exercises.  The daily amount of physical activity averaged over 8.75 hours for a total of 337 participants!

I cannot thank our partners enough...from Healthy Bites with our meals to our field trip vendors, our outside sports instructors to our sponsors.  We could not do this without you.  And of course, thank you Parents and Staff... your enthusiasm and mentorship for these kids is everything! 

As the 2017 AKA All Sports registration period is just around the corner (November 1 for Holiday Early Birds), I am excited to say that we will be adding more AKA locations.  There is an enormous vision for AKASPORT through All Sports Camps, After School programs, community offerings and charitable work.  A lot of work ahead...but in the meantime, again, thank you all for taking part in AKASPORT programs.  All the best, CS

Mid Summer Review & Upcoming AKA Events!

We are off to a great start this year at the All Sport Camp- already half way through! AKA keeps kids active every day, but we want the whole family to get out, be active and enjoy life! That's why we are adding more events just for our AKA families- here are some you won't want to miss! 

Friday, 7/29- Parent's Night Out!

Summer can be crazy and while we love family time, sometimes mom and dad just need a night off. We are hosting a Parent's Night Out on 7/29 so you can bring your AKA kids (and their friends) to hang out at NSC for a movie on the projection screen (HUGE!), pizza, games and a night of fun. 

We understand this could be a long day for the kids that are already attending camp so this won't be as active as our camp hours. Just a night for kids to be kids in a safe place. 

  • Event held at National Sports Center- Rinks 7/8 from 6-10pm
  • Drop off and pick up any time during the evening; Pizza will arrive at 7pm!
  • $30 per child or $25 when you register two or more (sibling or bring a friend!) 
  • Limited to kids age (going into) 1st grade through 9th grade

Register Here! 


Parent's at our NSC site drive past it all the time- the Velodrome. Many of the kids (and parents!) may not even know what it is so we want to introduce you to this exciting sport of Velodrome Bike Racing! These track bikes have one gear and no breaks- the perfect combination for extreme speeds and crashes.

Join us for Thursday Night Lights to watch the fast paced excitement. There will be several racing groups and interactive games with a chance to win prizes from Velodrome sponsors! There is a concession stand so you can make a night of it with your AKA friends. All ages are welcome- bring the whole family! Races begin at 7pm!

Learn more about the Velodrome and this amazing sport at

Let us know you are coming on our Facebook Event page

Wednesday, 8/17- Community Appreciation Event!

It's that time of year again! Join us for the 5th Annual Community Appreciation Event at the National Sports Center! Come out for dinner provided by Healthy Bites, enjoy music from the great DJ Deanomite, compete in games against your kids & coaches, and more! 

This event means so much to the AKA staff and campers. Its our chance to say Thank You for a great summer, give parents a chance to have some fun with us and help transition the kids back to the school year.

We want our families to have some fun being active together so everything at this event is provided free of charge with exception to our Fundraising Dunk Tank and Basketball Free Throw Competition. AKASPORT still operates as a nonprofit organization so these extra funds allow us to further our mission of Keeping Kids Well Rounded Through Sports by bringing in additional sports and activities and improve upon our existing programs. 

The event will be held outdoors of Rink 7/8 at our NSC site and will run from 4-7pm. (Food will be available until 6pm). 

No need to register- just show up!

We couldn't do this without your support!

We hope you will join us for these events!



We're not stopping anytime soon!


You've all heard from us, now let's hear from YOU!  Established as a nonprofit organization for the people and communities of Minnesota, AKASPORT values everything you do actively!

Here is your chance - kids, families and partner organizations - to submit videos and editorial pieces that display active living.

Whether that be sports, recreation, fitness and health achievements.... let's go!  Submit to  Share away!

We hope you like the new look and flow website.  Keep the dreams alive and the bodies moving.  Keeping Kids and Families Active through Sport.  #theAKAway