Pick-Up Sports Program launches! Does your child like a variety of sports? As a parent, tired of feeling like you have to commit to just one sport at such an early age? Michael Meola, a 2019 Cranford High School graduate, may have found the perfect solution for your multiple sports woes. This young entrepreneur came up with a new program for our community – Pick-Up Sports. Pick-Up Sports is a youth sports program that looks to vastly improve the youth sports experience for young kids. There are three main ways they differentiate themselves:
- Emphasis on playing multiple sports, not just one
- Learn by Playing
- High School Athlete Volunteer Coaches
Michael will explain more about why these three differentiators are a big deal below! I am honored to introduce you to yet another young businessperson right out of high school! Michael is currently a sophomore at the University of Delaware majoring in Entrepreneurship. Let’s hear more about this fabulous new program starting in May, why it’s profoundly different than other youth programs, and how you can sign your child up today!
Michael has always been a fan of all sports:
I played everything growing up. Football, baseball, basketball, soccer…this is how I made most of my friends. I ran cross-country and played basketball and baseball at Cranford High School. Playing every sport made me a better athlete. I currently play club baseball at the University of Delaware.
The inspiration for Pick-Up Sports:
Having had such a great experience playing sports growing up, I think every kid should have that same experience. I figured they were having a similar experience until I heard last year that a lot of kids were leaving town recreation and travel programs for club teams to “get serious” at a young age.
The need to “get serious” is something I saw in high school athletes where it makes some sense because these teams can help with college recruitment. But I knew it could actually hurt these younger kids if they played for these club teams and specialized in just one sport.
Pick-up Sports helps kids keep active with multiple sporting options:
Specializing in one sport can cause serious strain on the muscles you use because you never give them a break, causing overuse injuries. This affect is compounded when younger kids are specializing because their bodies are still very much developing. Playing multiple sports helps their whole bodies develop, rather than just one set of muscles.
Coaching methods that actually work:
Coaching methods used in so many programs, in my opinion, are outdated and focus on putting kids through boring drills hyper-focused on fundamentals that make them disengaged. This isn’t to say fundamentals aren’t important- but drilling them as much as coaches do hurts engagement. I feel that having drills that are fast-paced and competition-based will keep kids engaged and they’ll enjoy playing more. I also believe getting started with scrimmaging is a great way to learn in the beginning.
The beginning of Pick-Up Sports:
Knowing all of this I decided to start working on Pick-Up Sports last year to improve upon the way kids learn sports. I have been fortunate enough to get very positive feedback from the parents I have talked to. I have gotten great advice from professional mentors at the University of Delaware and from coaches currently in this space on how to be effective and keep kids engaged and having fun.
The Pick-Up Sports foundation:
The idea is to have a three-season, two sports per season program. Kids will play both sports each session and sessions will be once per week. The plan for each sport each is to take the kids through a fast-paced competition-based drill for one aspect of the sport (For example, in basketball, we would do a drill to teach them about shooting), and then the
rest of the time would be spent scrimmaging while supervised by coaches who will interject with teachable lessons during the moment.
An example with flag football and soccer:
First part: Drill with catching a football and then break into teams and scrimmage
Second part: Drill with shooting a soccer ball and then break into a scrimmage
Drills change each week to give kids a well-rounded introduction to each sport.
Keeping connected to the local community:
I’m planning on having current and former Cranford High School athletes as volunteer coaches because I really want to be connected to the community. I also know kids look up to local coaches like celebrities, so this will keep them that much more engaged. Also, who better to teach a sport than the ones currently playing it?
Who is eligible for the first Pick-Up Sports program?
At the moment, I’m opening the program to boys ages 7-9 years. As time progresses and the program grows, we will open it up to girls and other ages, based on the demand.
What sports will be included?
The sports offered right now are subject to change, but as it stands currently:
Tell me a little bit about your inaugural May event
On May 22, 2021 there will be a FREE event for boys ages 7-9 years. This will be our way of introducing what Pick-Up Sports is all about and get the word out to interested parents. I understand how parents might be a little apprehensive of a new business, especially one involving their kids, so I want to show people that this is a legitimate program that will be a great experience for the kids who participate.
Experience an actual Pick-Up Sports session for FREE:
The Pick-Up Sports event on May 22 will essentially be a peek into what our sessions will be like when it really gets going. It will be a 2-hour session and the kids will be playing flag
football and soccer. It will have the same structure as what I listed above.
Goals/hopes for the future of Pick-Up Sports:
I just want to give kids the best possible experience in sports like I did, which means playing as many sports as possible. Playing all these sports not only has physical benefits, but it allows you to meet all different kinds of people and experience as much as possible. Ultimately, I want to make Pick-Up Sports a household name and a “go-to” program for young kids playing sports in Cranford and the surrounding communities. It’s the least I can do for being able to grow up in such an amazing area.
Pick-Up Sports is ready for the future of sports:
Contrary to what many people may think, this is not a school project or a temporary idea. I have made extensive plans for this program. I want Pick-Up Sports to evolve into something I can do out of college and beyond because nothing would bring me more joy than being able to do what I love, give back to the community that raised me, and make a living
all at the same time.
How parents can enroll their children:
Official sign-ups will be LIVE in one week! But if you want to secure your spot now, you can email Michael at email@example.com . You can also message and follow Pick-Up Sports at Pick-Up Sports FB and @pickupsportsnj Instagram.