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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review of Upward Sports (Basketball)

For the past two winters, my daughter has been playing basketball on an UPWARD team. It has been such a wonderful, confidence building experience! We found UPWARD mainly through the school she attends. I had heard of teacher friends recommend it, and I had seen those car magnets and window clings for a couple of years. I went to their website and filled in my zip code to find a location near us. We ended up registering and playing at West Broadway Baptist Church (WBBC) on Six Mile Lane and have absolutely loved it!

The gracious people who run the UPWARD program at WBBC are super nice and love on every kid who walks through the doors. From the church leaders, to the coaches, to a wonderful program manager who oversees and manages all the teams, we have made some friends and met some great parents along the way.
UPWARD is a Christian-based sports program geared for elementary and middle school children in grades K-8. The primary focus of UPWARD is “to develop the WINNER in every child, not just a few.”

Time is set aside at the end of each practice for character development sharing with the coach and the team members. Kids talk about experiences they go through and how they can lean on God and the caring adults in their life to make good choices. The coaches take an interest in the kids on their team and really help them become better in life using basketball skills as the stepping stones.

During each game, every child is rotated in and every child gets a chance at making a basket. It’s definitely not a “who is the best shooter so let’s give them the ball every time” kind of deal. At the end of every game the team meets up and has a snack provided by parents each week and they are awarded colored stars which represent different character traits. The stars can then be ironed onto your child’s UPWARD t-shirt sleeve. Every kid gets a star, every kid gets praise, and every kid gets recognized for how they worked as a team player. Every kid feels special after each game!

My daughter is an active child but not necessarily a super-into-sports kid. She was a little bit hesitant at first when it came to playing basketball. My husband played all through his school years and we thought it would be fun for her. During the first year of evaluations when she was in second grade, she really had a hard time but we ventured on because we really wanted her to go through with it. Each week of practice and game playing, her skills improved. We could see her gaining confidence in the games. Her coach displayed the utmost in caring and encouragement. During one of her games in her first year she had been struggling and finally had an “AHA” moment. She made a foul shot and her coach picked her up and carried her to the sideline! There was joy spread all over her face that day.

Each week there is a one hour practice, on Monday and Tuesday evenings. For Kindergarten-3rd grade, practice runs from 7-8pm. 4th-8th graders practice from 8-9pm. The teams play one game per week on Saturdays for 8 weeks. There is a form that can be found online; print and bring it to your site. The brochure may also run through your child’s school so look for it in their backpack. The early registration fee is $65; after November 17 it is $75. (These dates and fees are associated with WBBC; each league sets their own.)
Evaluations for UPWARD teams in Louisville are usually held on the first three Saturdays in November from 10am-12pm. The evaluations are simple basketball drills that the coaches use to gauge at what level your child is playing. They also take a height check and measure kids for uniform sizes.

We attend West Broadway Baptist Church’s site. But there are over 20 sites around the whole city. In these coming winter months your kids can cheer or play basketball. In the spring and summer there is soccer and flag football as well. The season officially starts after the holidays around January 7 with practices that week.

After the first season, our daughter didn’t really want to play again. But she knew a lot of the friends she had made would be playing, so we tried it a second time. This will be our third year, and she can’t wait to start the season! She has improved a lot in terms of the sport, but more importantly she has been encouraged by having fun with other kids rather than focusing on how many of her baskets make it in.

By guest contributor: Erin

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