SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was the perfect day for the 8th annual Springfield Summer Olympics, hosted by the YMCA. 22News went to Springfield College to find out why kids wanted to be a part of it.
“We know we’re fast and if you really want something and you believe in yourself, then you might as well come out,” said 10-year-old Starr Duckworth of Springfield.
Whether they were five years old or 22 years old, more than 800 youth started their summer at the Springfield Summer Olympics. It’s a partnership between the YMCA of Greater Springfield and Greater Hartford now in its 8th year.
“A key element is making sure we’re developing youth from a young age,” said Janice Watson of the Dunbar YMCA in Springfield.
Another key goal was to keep youth busy with a healthy activity in the summer, rather than getting into trouble. Anyone interested could sign up a half hour before the event, but the basketball players already had teams. Some players said they didn’t like the alternative to playing basketball in the summer: “It’s better than staying at home…Ya, being bored. On the streets, so basketball kind of keeps us together,” said Brayden Ramos, who was visiting with his team from Norwich, Connecticut.
“It’s just awesome. The kids come in, have some healthy, fun competition: track and field, flag football,” YMCA of Greater Springfield Chief Operations Officer Kris Allard told 22News.
This was more than a day of just keeping kids busy: it was a chance to introduce kid to sports they may have never played before and without any pressure. For many, that sport was table tennis, and they loved it.
“I’ve been playing table tennis, volleyball, and I ran,” said an excited Imaria Simms, who was at Springfield College with her friends from Hartford, Connecticut.
For the College Bound Student Athletes team from Springfield, this day was a result of doing well in school.
“Our coach likes kids that get good grades in school and making youth athletes,” Taelon Martin, a Cathedral High School student, told 22News.
For inner city kids, their teammates said it was an opportunity they may not otherwise have.
“Sometimes they can’t pay and we let them get away with it, but it’s good for them to play, get them out of trouble for the summer,” added Tiana Moraes of New Haven, Connecticut.
Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, this day inspired at least one athlete to one day become a real Olympian.