NYSP offers youth active summer fun

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 14, 2004

Prior to last Monday, Jordan Sherman knew "absolutely nothing" about soccer - other than the object of the game is to kick a ball into a net.

After five days at the National Youth Sports Program camp, he can now say he knows "just about everything."

"I never played soccer before, and now I love it," the 12-year-old Ironton Middle School student said Friday after he and other students in his group finished a match.

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Like Sherman, 12-year-old Dawson-Bryant student Jordan Delawder learned a new sport as well.

"I never played tennis before, but now I think I'm pretty good at it," he said.

Sherman and Delawder are just two of more than 200 youth from 14 school districts in Lawrence County and Kentucky learning about sports - familiar and unfamiliar - at the annual NYSP camp at Ohio University Southern. The free sports camp



through a grant from the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Human Resources. This is the fourth year OUS has hosted the camp.

NYSP camps are hosted by approximately 190 colleges - at least one in all 50 states. The NCAA

sets up strict guidelines that govern the structure of the program's physical and educational

components. The free camp is open to 10- to 16-year-old boys and girls, who receive a camp T-shirt and two meals each day.

In addition to daily instruction in soccer, tennis and basketball, the students are also educated on drug, alcohol and tobacco prevention.

Although a date has not been set, each group of campers will spend a day horseback riding at the Ohio Horse Park in Franklin Furnace. Once the city

pool opens, campers will also

be able to go swimming.

On Friday, Jeff Shepherd, a former University of Kentucky basketball star who was MVP of the 1998 NCAA tournament, will speak to campers.

Although this is only the fourth year for the camp at OUS, Reed said it has been on his mind for 22 years now.

"I was attending graduate classes at Morehead (State University)," said Reed, who is an instructor and head men's basketball coach at OUS. "One of my instructors, Dr. Earl Bentley, talked about the camp. When I was hired (at OUS), Dr. Bill Dingus gave me the go-ahead to bring the camp here. I applied and we got it."

The camp is funded by a $50,000 grant that has to be renewed each year.

Reed said the sports camp gives students the opportunity to be active, rather than watching television or playing video games.

"It gives the kids something to do in the summer," Reed said. "It teaches them sports and helps them develop a level of physical fitness. It also provides them with a safe environment for five weeks."

The camp has 25 counselors and instructors, but only eight are paid. The others are volunteering their time. Most are college students majoring in elementary education, Reed said.

Jonathan Williams of Flatwoods, Ky., is an education major at Thomas Moore College in Kentucky. He has been on the NYSP staff all four years.

"I'm going into education, so it gives me the opportunity to work with kids," Williams said. "There's something for everybody - basketball, soccer, tennis, swimming. There's at least one thing every kid can do well. It's fun to see the kids improve each year."

Chris Moore of Coal Grove, who serves on the secretarial staff, has been with the camp two years, last year as a volunteer and this year as a paid employee. She decided to volunteer because her teenage daughter had so much fun at the camp.

"Now, she's too old and I'm still here," she said with a laugh.

OUS senior Derek Withrow said the camp offers students good, positive role models.

"All of our counselors are tremendous people, and that's really hard to find these days," the Flatwoods resident said. "It is so fulfilling to spend my day with these kids and teach them the sports I love. You teach them the smallest things and it puts huge smiles on their faces. It's just a great feeling."

Reed said OUS was the only school in the state of Ohio to be recognized for outstanding instruction on its evaluation.

"This includes schools like Toledo and Ohio State that have entire athletic departments at their disposal," Reed said. "Every year we are evaluated, (NYSP evaluators) talk about how great our staff is. I feel safe to say no other school in the nation has a staff as good as ours."

Ironton Middle School student Erison Motin, 11, said the NYSP staff is very helpful.

"They teach us a lot of stuff," Motin said. "It's just fun to get out and play."

Ironton Middle School student Courtney Lewis, 11, said the camp has given

him the opportunity to meet students from other schools - children he may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

"You get to meet all kinds of kids from other schools," Lewis said. "That's what I like best. NYSP is fun."

Reed said those friendships often last long after the five-week camp is over.

"An instructor called me one time and told me seven different kids from seven different schools were sitting at a table at (The Ashland Town Center) mall talking about camp," Reed said. "It teaches them a little about sports, a little about life and gives them true friendships. You can't buy that."

The program started Monday and runs through July 9. However, it is not too late to sign up for the program. For more information, call Reed at (740) 533-4542, (606) 836-2969 or (606) 571-1724.