Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
TACOMA, Wash. - The Pacific Lutheran University athletic department hosted the sixth-annual Youth Sports Clinic on Saturday along with concurrently hosting the first ever Special Olympics Spring Sport Clinic with nearly 110 total children from the local community participating between the two events. A total of around 90 student-athletes representing all 19 sports programs volunteered at the Youth Sports Clinic which saw around 80 children in attendance, leading campers through stations while stressing the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle. The Special Olympics Clinic saw almost 30 participants with around 36 student-athletes involved in running the event.
"Every year this event gains momentum. It's an opportunity for the PLU Athletic Department to serve our community in ways we know best - through the passion of our individual sports and by promoting the positive impact living a healthy lifestyle can have. Our student-athletes have a blast engaging with the kids and earn quick rewards through the smiles exchanged," said women's basketball coach Jen Childress.
"Some of the youth in attendance have never had the chance to attend a camp, or learn about such sports as tennis or yoga. Our hope is through this clinic we ignite in each child a desire to continue playing something, and that they set down the video games for a bit each day to get active."
Youth participants ranging from six to 12-years old were grouped together by age and led through six different sport stations (soccer, basketball, track & field, tennis, football, and yoga) at the Youth Clinic. This was the first time the clinic offered a yoga station which was conducted by men's soccer student-athlete Oni Mayer who is a certified instructor.
The individual youth groups were guided through the event by student-athletes from the PLU athletic department with other student-athletes assisting as group leaders, registration supervisors, and lunch servers.
"I like to see the kids step out of their comfort zone to try new sports, and have fun with their friends," said women's basketball student-athlete Lauren Furu. "It's so rewarding interacting with them, knowing they truly look up to us as role models and we can have an impact on them at an early age."
In its first year, the Special Olympics Spring Sport Clinic mirrored the format of the Youth Sports Clinic with stations on golf, baseball/softball, and track & field, and continues the Lute tradition of community programming for Special Olympics athletes. The Lutes hosted the seventh-annual Special Olympics Basketball Clinic back on Jan. 22 and invited participants back to Olson Gymnasium to perform at halftime of the PLU men's and women's basketball doubleheader on Feb. 3 against Linfield College. The Lutes have also volunteered with Special Olympics bowling and at the Special Olympics Unified Soccer Tournament this academic year.
"The Special Olympic athletes are an inspiration to us all. They embrace the pure joy of competing and staying active. They love learning new skills and working with our student-athletes. The afternoon was a complete success. We anticipate hosting this event on a much larger scale in 2019," said Childress.
All campers in attendance were given raffle prizes, a t-shirt, a free lunch, and a free frisbee courtesy of PLU recreation. The Lutes will be offering a wide array of youth camps over the summer. For a detailed list of summer offerings click the camps & clinics tab on golutes.com.