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Sign-ups for basketball, cheering and indoor soccer

Youth sports: Cheerleading and pep squad is one of three youth sports leagues offered by the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Department with practices starting in November and games starting in January 2011. About 400 children took part in the leagues last year, which included basketball and indoor soccer.

Encouraging good physical fitness, competition, helping youth get into activities and off the streets and simply having fun are all among the great reasons Suffolk Parks and Recreation’s indoor soccer, basketball and cheerleading leagues are growing and bringing in new players.

“Last year we had about 400 kids overall in our three programs,” said Jason Jones, athletic supervisor for Suffolk Parks and Recreation.

“Actually, hopefully we’re looking at more than that this year. We’ve already had great responses from all the parents whose kids played last year. Our phones have been ringing off the hook since sign-ups started,” Jones said.

More players means more teams, and more teams means a need for more coaches. Suffolk Parks and Recreation is looking for volunteer coaches for all three sports.

Knowing hoops, soccer or cheering is a plus, but it’s hardly the most important requirement to be a great coach.

“Coaches can be a mentor to the kids they work with,” Jones said. “They can help the youth build self esteem and confidence within them. Then there’s teamwork, teaching them how to be a part of a team and improve individually at the same time.”

Potential coaches who can fit those roles, but might be a little off on specific soccer or basketball fundamentals, will get help from other coaches or Parks and Recreation staff. When possible, said Jones, they can partner a coach who knows the sport with a head coach who’s jumping in for the first time.

Coach applications are available at www.suffolk.va.us/parks/athletics or at Mack Benn Jr., Oakland, King’s Fork, Booker T. Washington, Northern Shores, Creekside and East Suffolk recreation centers and the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Administration Office adjacent to the East Suffolk Recreation Center. Background checks are done on all volunteer coaching applicants.

Basketball is open to ages 5-16. Indoor soccer and Cheerleading/Pep squad are for ages 5-14.

Practices, usually with each team getting one practice per week, start up in late November. Games get underway in January, but practices continue each week through most of the seasons.

Games are scheduled for Fridays after school or Saturdays. Basketball league games are played at recreation centers around the city. Oakland Recreation Center hosts indoor soccer.

Players can register online at www.suffolk.va.us/parks through Sept. 30. Recreation Center registration is Monday-Thursday from 5-7 p.m. through Oct. 16 at Creekside, Mack Benn Jr., Oakland, King’s Fork or Northern Shores recreation centers. Creekside and Mack Benn Jr. centers will hold Saturday registrations from Oct. 2-23 from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. There will be late registration Oct. 18-23.

The registration fee is $55 for residents and $65 for non-residents. An additional $15 will be added for late registrations. All registrants must have proof of age and residency.

For more information, contact Jason Jones at jkjones@city.suffolk.va.us or 514-7254 or Ava Nowlin at anowlin@city.suffolk.va.us or 514-4504.