The First Steps of Boots on the Ground…

The first project undertaken by Sport Development Concepts back in September was to present and facilitate discussion at the Illinois Youth Sport Summit. This was a significant event as it was the first time a group of state youth sport stakeholders got together to discuss the basic principles of the American Development Model and how it can be used to re-shape the youth sports environment from adult-oriented to child focused.

Inspired by the work of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, a national effort to reform youth sports, the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois hosted the Illinois Youth Sport Summit (IYSS) in September 2014. IYSS convened leaders from a variety of agencies and organizations that design, deliver, and implement youth sport programs and services throughout the state of Illinois. The unique format of the Summit combined expert knowledge with insight from practitioners in order to enable conversations that explored alternative models of sport design and delivery, innovative resourcing strategies, and opportunities to cooperate instead of compete.

After two days of presentations and workshops there was overwhelming demand from participants that the effort continue with guidance and support from summit organizers. As a result, the Illinois Youth Sport Initiative (IYSI) was launched as an ongoing effort to assist practitioners in learning about and developing the skills and resources needed to increase the diversity, attractiveness, and effectiveness of youth sport options throughout the state. The foundation of the initiative is “Reinventing Youth Sports in Illinois: A Report from the Illinois Youth Sport Summit.” Released in January 2015, the report identifies six realms of action for improving the quality and quantity of youth sport opportunities, and offers suggestions to make proposed reforms real. IYSI will continue to refine and expand on these ideas as new policies and practices are developed and tested in various contexts. A description of the initiative, including presentations from the September summit can be found at . If you are interested in learning more about IYSI please visit and follow @YthSportIL on Twitter for immediate updates, announcements, and opportunities.

Led by Executive Director Raquel Hutchinson, the IYSI is presenting the principal ideas at professional and academic conferences, promoting the report through multiple, cross-sector channels, and seeking support and opportunities to implement proposed reforms at the community and/or organizational level. There are currently four working groups comprised of representatives from public park and recreation agencies, private sport providers, the interscholastic sport system, and national governing bodies each tasked with further development of specific ideas and strategies to reform youth sports. IYSI recognizes that change will not occur overnight, and is seeking widespread commitment and support from agencies and organizations, as well as youth sport administrators, coaches, and parents. The goal is to provide youth with positive sport experiences that will contribute to their development as both people and athletes.To get involved with the Illinois initiative please contact Raquel Hutchinson at [email protected]

Sport Development Concepts has begun working with other key youth sport leaders and organizations across the country, to replicate the initiative in other states. If you are interested in becoming involved in this effort in your state, please contact David McCann, [email protected]

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About the Author : David McCann

Dave McCann is the Founder of Sport Development Concepts, which provides consulting on all matters having to do with the development of sport, including recruitment, retention, and advancement of athletes. He is the nation’s leading expert on Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD). Previously he served as Director of Rugby Development and Director of Coaching for USA Rugby, Manager of Coaching Education for the US Olympic Committee, and Director of the Institute for Sport Coaching. In 2011 he created the National Coaching Conference, which brings together coaches, coach educators, and program administrators to discuss and develop solutions to improve our national sports development, education, and performance system. In 2007 he was elected President of the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education. Throughout his career he has trained over 3,000 sport coaches and instructors in clinics across the nation.

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