Last year, Santa Maria began the Lower Price Hill Youth Sports League in collaboration with Oyler School’s after-school program. The Youth Sports League stemmed from a request by Santa Maria’s partner, the Lower Price Hill Community Council, and from the realization that youth attending Oyler School were unable to participate in sports until the seventh grade.
“We have been able to teach the kids basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, flag football, tennis, volleyball, and many other active, running games,” said Jessica Polzin, Santa Maria’s Youth Development Program Coordinator. “Last year we developed a boys’ basketball team with fourth through sixth graders and they were able to play competitively against Hayes Porter in a few games.”
Recently, Santa Maria’s Youth Development Program developed the agency’s first official youth sports team – girls’ youth soccer. Thanks to funds provided by the Neighborhood Support Program through the City of Cincinnati, Santa Maria has been able to offer fourth through sixth grade girls in Lower Price Hill positions on the team, which Jessica Polzin helps coach afterschool. “The girls were excited to end in a tied score, 2-2, against Westwood in their second game after just a couple of practices,” said Polzin. “Their first practice consisted of very little work on actual soccer fundamentals, but more on showing the girls how to put on their cleats and explaining things like shin guards – things the girls in this community had never seen before.”
The Youth Sports League has seen a lot of success in its first year. “We’ve been able to utilize the skills and knowledge from nine adult coaches as well as 34 youth coaches,” says Polzin. We’ve also had an estimated 50 youth that were able to start developing basic skills needed for a variety of different sports in Lower Price Hill.”