Run, dribble, pass and play. Registering youth for a sports class at the St. Charles Park District is a chance to learn a new sport, build skills and friendships too. This is thanks to a great partnership with Hot Shot Sports, the park district is able to offer a wide array of activities for athletes of all ages and skills.
Hot Shot Sports is based in Chicago and partners with more than 80 park districts and recreation departments in northern Illinois, explained Sam Olbur, Hot Shot Sports director of operations for North and West Chicagoland.
Along with interviews and background checks, all Hot Shot Sports instructors and coaches take part in an extensive training process to help them prepare for classes, Olbur said. Several of the instructors who worked while in their college years have gone on to careers in education, he added.
“For some park districts we are teaching the beginners in a sport and in some areas we help with the travel teams,” Olbur said.
For the St. Charles Park District, Hot Shot Sports instructors are leading classes in Pee Wee Flag Football for ages 5-6; Basketball 101 and Junior Flag Football for ages 7-8; and Soccer 101 for ages 9-12 during the Winter II session, which runs from late February through early April.
“These are great intro classes and the instructors bring so much energy with the kids,” said Andrew Nelson, athletic supervisor for the St. Charles Park District.
Nelson, who grew up in Batavia, said he remembers his own childhood playing lots of different sports and how he loved to play and it was a great way to make new friends with each sport. For Olbur, friendships and the social aspect of sports is also a top priority. His vision for classes goes beyond the skills of the sport and giving the young participants a chance to make new friends. Nelson said he’s often seen participants build friendships and return for another session of the sport together to continue learning, developing and having a chance to hang out together too. Classes average between 8-15 students, Nelson said.
Parents have positive feedback on the Hot Shot Sports classes, Nelson said, as they praise the instructors for their ability to connect with the participants and help them develop new sports skills in a fun manner.
During the summer, Hot Shot Sports doubles its staffing to accommodate the demand for classes as well as summer sports camps. Nelson said Hot Shot Sports instructors will be leading sports summer camp week-long classes, which run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for children ages 5-8 and 8-12.
In addition to the single-sports classes that focus on soccer, basketball and flag football, there will be a multi-sport camp, which offers the variety of incorporating several sports in the week-long camp.
“You can play something new each day,” Nelson added.
For the younger children ages 3 to 6 there is a mini sports camp class, which runs from 8 to 8:40 a.m.
The summer camp registration opens Feb. 12 for St. Charles Park District residents. The sports camps and classes are primarily at Timer Trails Park, near Sportsplex. Nelson said classes are set outdoors but can be moved indoors due to weather.