Over 6,000 Westport kids play sports. Many do more than one. And — as every parent knows — many sports are now played in more than one season.
It’s a grand slam of opportunities — and a grand problem for kids (multiple demands), parents (conflicting schedules) and administrators (not a lot of fields).
Westport’s Parks & Rec Department is trying to bring some order to the pileup.
As de facto coordinator of youth sports in town — it oversees most facilities, and runs several programs itself — Parks & Rec has organized a Westport Youth Sports Council.
Members include every major organization in town: Little League baseball and softball; PAL (lacrosse, football, track, wrestling, basketball, cheerleading); the Westport Soccer Association, and Westport Field Hockey. They meet several times a year.
The goal, says Parks & Rec program manager and Council director Karen Puskas, is for every group to be “on the same page.” In the same ballpark, if you will.
Soon after the holidays, they’ll roll out a new website. It will offer a master schedule; links to every program; a code of conduct; concussion awareness, and information for current residents, as well as anyone with sports-loving kids considering a move to Westport.
This spring, the council plans an open house. Every organization can showcase its program.
Also in the works: informational sessions for parents about college athletics, and townwide forums on topics like specialization and burnout.
“It’s a work in progress,” Puskas admits. “We’re all busy, and everyone is a volunteer. It will only be successful if everyone works together.”
But, she notes, 2 years ago Westport won a National Alliance for Youth Sports award for its comprehensive programs. This council builds on that cooperation.
Westport’s sports organizations are filled with “great people,” Puskas says. “For everyone, it’s all about the kids.”
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