No one would argue that Park City, Utah can boast an astonishing level of youth sports, both in quantity and quality. One entity that gets to claim a lion’s share of credit for that is Youth Sports Alliance.
Throughout the year, this nonprofit organization provides opportunities for local youth athletes to A) Perhaps most crucially, try new sports and B) If kids find a sport they like, the chance to stick with it. One night a year, the Youth Sports Alliance puts on a killer party, calls it The Circle of Excellence, invites a bunch of the kiddos (and their parents) and hands out some well-deserved awards.This year, that party was held at the ultra cool Skullcandy HQ allowing many excited attendees their first inroad to the otherwise forbidden building.
If a picture tells a thousand words then feast your eyes on the ping pong tables, live DJ, mini golf, halfpipe laden space that is Skullcandy. When you’re there, if you squint your eyes and crink your neck you can just make out what may or may not be desks, offices, meeting rooms but on a fun night like this one, no one can be sure.
From the never-ever athletes all the way up to the seasoned, world cup tourers, shiny plaques bearing recipients names and custom headphones sporting the Youth Sports Alliance logo were given out, one by one to the applause of invited friends and family.
The venue is about a long par five from the ski jump hills at the Utah Olympic Park and as the sun was setting in the shadows of those jumps a special moment arose in the program. Two time Olympian, Bryan Fletcher who thus far had stood among the handful of fellow Olympians and Hall-of-Famers representing an array of sports and helped distribute awards to an array of young athletes was introduces individually to step forward. He held in his hand one of those shiny plaques, took the microphone and spoke from the heart. Bryan was there that night to recognize an amazing young lady named Hadley Miles. Hadley, not unlike Bryan had, has childhood Leukemia. As a dedicated figure skater, her athletic career is going up, up, up and Bryan could relate. Recounting anecdotes of how she attends each and every skate practice and competition possible between trips to the hospital Hadley listened in state of surprise as she had no idea this was gonna happen at this gig. It was almost like it was only the two of them in this cavernous room filled with a couple hundred people until a thunderous applause broke the silence after his deeply personal introduction of her.
Afterwards, Hadley had this to say about her experience,”Well, I was not expecting this award and didn’t even know it was a category so I feel very honored and grateful. This is very special and it means so much to me to be here.”
Fletcher, after having the honor of presenting Hadley with the Spirit of Sport Award said, “Hadley was diagnosed with Leukemia this past year but through all her treatments kept going out to her Team practices and skating on the ice which was pretty inspirational and really exemplifies the spirt of sport, being able to go out and support your community and the athletes that you’ve become friends with and reach higher levels together.”
The program rolled on to include awards for all manner of sport such as the All Star Award for local, state and regional achievement which was presented to, among a prestigious list from other disciplines, USA Nordic Fly Girls, Macey Olden and Rachel Hearter. Champion Award winners for national and international achievement included USA Nordic Fly Guy, Zach Selzman, Jr. National Skii Jumping Team member Paige Jones, Ski Jumping National Team member Samantha Macuga and Nordic Combined National Team members Jared Shumate and Stephen Schumann.
Schumann described the night by saying, “It’s so nice to receive recognition from this great local organization that supports young athletes.”
High fives finished, the successful event was commented on by Emily Fisher, Youth Sports Alliance Executive Director, “It was an exciting event for which I feel thankful to Skullcandy for hosting. The community space they have here is just perfect for events like this giving the community an opportunity to gather and celebrate out athletes.” When asked what’s next for her organization, Fisher continued, “I’m really excited for this winter. We’re continue to grow as we’ve expanded our programing from the Park City School District to outlying towns’ school districts and private schools within Park City as well as adding new year-round sports all the time.”
A fabulous time was had by all as this close knit sporting community prepares for another year of fun thanks to the Youth Sports Alliance.