Town sports keeps kids active all winter long

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

Eighth-grader Nate Senna is a standout player on the Owen Middle School boys soccer team. His skills and interest in soccer got their start because of his participation in the Black Mountain Recreation and Parks department’s “smart start” soccer program, designed to teach preschoolers the basics of the sport.

Senna has played in the indoor soccer league since first grade and wouldn’t miss a season.

“It’s the best thing in the winter, and you always see so many people from school and the community at the Grey Eagle arena,” he said. “My family loves it. This year all three kids in my family will play.”

With the transition of the seasons, it’s time to prepare for winter sports activities for children. Black Mountain Recreation and Parks is now registering players for youth basketball and indoor soccer.

Research links organized team sports participation to such benefits as discipline, teamwork, sacrifice, setting and striving for goals, dealing with success and failure and overcoming adversity.

“The evidence supporting sports participation for young people is overwhelming. It has the power to combat everything from racism to low self-image, to the high-school drop-out rate and more,” Sue Castle, executive producer of PBS Sports: Get in the Game, says in an oft-cited report.

Black Mountain Recreation and Parks coordinates youth sports all year. Practices and most games occur locally, participation prices are reasonable, and programs are designed for all players, including beginners. The sports programs emphasize skill development, teamwork, evenly matched teams, and all players getting time in the game.

During the winter months, the Grey Eagle arena on White Pine Drive is a happening place. . Each week day after school, the facility is filled with team practices. A skills clinic for all registered youth on Nov. 14 at Grey Eagle arena is an important tool to help staff create equally matched teams. Registered kids will receive more information; otherwise, contact the recreation department. Register to play at or at the Carver Center (669-2052). Registration through Nov. 14 is $55; late registration is $65 if space is available.

Practices begin early December; games will be early January through February.

Volunteer coach Mike Roseman said the indoor soccer league has been a very positive experience for his family. The camaraderie between the players and the families is strong, and the competition is good.

“Our family has made more friends and acquaintances through indoor soccer than any other sport league we have been involved in,” said Roseman, who has coached various sports about 25 years. “The kids learn and practice skills that transfer easily to outdoor soccer as well.”

Youth basketball registration runs until Nov. 12, with a participation fee of $55; late registration is $65 if space is available. Practices will begin early December and games begin in January. Team practices are at Black Mountain Primary and Elementary schools in the evenings, with games at Owen Middle and Stephens Lee Gym in Asheville. A final skills clinic is Nov. 12 at Black Mountain Primary. Age divisions begin at kindergarten.

The basketball league in which Black Mountain teams will participate this year will be different. Players will be part of an Asheville Parks and Recreation league.

“This league hopes offer more evenly placed teams for competition, with no A and B division separation,” said recreation coordinator Collin Bugniazet.

For sixth-grade basketball team participant Will Lance, the program means important training for middle school sports, as well as fun and an opportunity to hang out with friends. “It keeps me active and helps kids not play as many video games inside,” he said. His mom, Tina Lance, appreciates that it keeps her son physically active during the cold weather when it gets dark so early.

For the indoor soccer program, growth has occurred particularly in recent years. From 2010 to last season, participation increased from 100 to 220.

People interested in coaching or sponsoring a youth sports team should contact Recreation and Parks.