Hood River County Community Education’s popular indoor youth soccer league starts a month earlier than usual this year to give the even more popular youth basketball season an extra month of playtime. Registration for the indoor soccer program, for youngsters ages 4-9, is still open, with sessions starting next week at Westside Elementary School.
The indoor soccer program will run from Oct. 1 to Nov. 20, with 16 sessions from 5:30-7 p.m. every Tuesdays and Wednesday. It had typically started a month later, but high feedback for a lengthened basketball season meant something had to give.
“This is something we’ve been talking about for a long time,” said John Rust, HRCE director in regards to extending the basketball season. “Building one program means we have to adjust others; it’s a give and take.”
Unlike many communities, Hood River’s fall youth soccer season is held indoors due to a lack of available field space outside. The move inside, however, comes with its share of benefits. Weather can get pretty bad in November, and kids tend to have a lot less fun when they’re cold and wet. The season focuses on skill development and friendly competition, with games played with foam soccer balls. The league is school-based, with travel between each elementary school for games.
“The indoor environment is also good for skill development,” Rust added. “There aren’t many sports that kids of that age can pick up and participate in so quickly. Soccer is one of those sports that every kid can have fun at almost immediately.”
The youth basketball season, for kids grades 3-6, will start Dec. 3 this year, with two practices per week and a six-game season (games played on Saturdays). The extended program means kids will have an additional month of skill development to get ready for games. Players are placed on teams based on school, grade level (3/4 or 5/6) and gender, with practices at players’ home schools and games at various elementary schools around the county.
Another new addition to the youth basketball program this year is the Junior and Little Ballers programs for kids grades 1-2 and ages 3-6 running Saturdays through Nov. 23. The skill-development program introduces young players to the fundamentals of basketball with the help of parents, who get to run drills and activities together with the kids.