Parks and Recreation Youth Soccer Begins

    Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain girls soccer players in action this season. Many of the school's players got their start in parks and recreation soccer. (Klas Stolpe)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Spring is here and so is the “Early Bird” registration for the City and Borough of Juneau Parks & Recreation’s youth outdoor soccer (ages 5 to 14) play.

      “The value of this program to the community is immeasurable,” Recreation Coordinator Amanda Lovejoy said. “Youth sports is so much more than learning to play soccer or volleyball or basketball. It’s really about learning how to be a team player, how to accept a defeat or a win with grace, how to get back up and continue to try after falling, and how to have fun with a sport you love.”

      Early bird registration opens Monday, May 10, at noon and runs through May 23. Early registration costs $55. Starting May 24, registration costs increases to $65. Register online (look under “Youth & Teen”) starting May 10 at noon.

      Scholarships are available; contact Amanda Lovejoy at 586-2635 ext. 4156 or for more information.

      “Recreation league sports allows a wide variety of skill levels to play together,” Lovejoy said. “We truly believe everyone should play. It gives kids an opportunity to be team leaders, to play with kids they may not interact with on a regular basis. What we are hoping that kids walk away with is a sense of love of the game that they will take with them into their adulthood.”

      Roughly 300-350 youth participant in parks & recreation soccer annually according to Lovejoy.

      Current Juneau-Douglas High School coach Matt Dunsenberry did so when visiting Juneau in his early youth.

      “I’m going to date myself here, but besides being involved in soccer in Juneau as a coach for some time with Juneau Soccer Club, JDHS Soccer, Thunder Mountain Camps/later Juneau Soccer Camps and numerous Parks and Rec indoor & outdoor soccer clinics, I also played as kid in the 80's during the summers,” he said. “My two sons started at a young age through their Smart Start program, played for years in their indoor and outdoor season programs. One of them even is a referee for them currently. I've always appreciated and encouraged others to take advantage of all of the great programs Parks and Recreation offers.”

      The season runs July through August. Generally, kids will practice one night a week, Monday through Thursday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Games will take place on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

      Both the boys and girls leagues will be broken into divisions by age and area, though depending on the number of kids, divisions and areas may be combined and some divisions may be coed. Kids must turn 5 years old by August 28, 2021 in order to play. Parks & Recreation will not accommodate coach requests. A COVID-19 mitigation plan will be released closer to the start of the season.

      “The program started in the early 70’s,” Lovejoy said. “We have employees who grew up playing Parks and Recreation soccer and now work for the department.”

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