By: Brandon Osborne, Executive Director, Abilene Youth Sports Authority
About Abilene Youth Sports Authority (AYSA): The vision of Abilene Youth Sports Authority is to engage, equip, and empower coaches, parents and young athletes to unite, inspire and change the world through sports and Christian principles.
How has your organization had to pivot/adapt during the pandemic? Did the change impact the people you serve, if at all?
As an organization we pivoted very quickly to continue to follow our mission to be the change in youth sports. After opening for a month, we were forced to close our doors for 12 weeks before we could re-open due to Covid-19.
Through it all, we were able to maintain our mission by altering what we do from in-person to completely virtual. We created over 35 different volleyball, basketball and fitness Zoom workouts and Facebook and Instagram challenges all with the intent to keep youth active mentally and physically, as well as parent and student digital workshops. We also remained intentional in reaching our students and families with principles of leadership and sport skills through social media and email marketing.
Once doors were allowed to reopen, we hit the ground running by providing quality sports events with strict COVID-19 precautions for those who chose to participate. We committed to all our supporters that we would serve the community and wanted to honor our commitment in the safest way possible. We believe our events have helped serve as a positive mental health and physical outlet during the stress of the pandemic.
How many people does your organization help every month/year? Any volunteers? Has that number changed due to the pandemic?
Prior to the completion of the Dodge Jones Youth Sports Center (DJYSC), we served approximately 5,000 people annually. After being open only a month, we served 3,000 people face-to-face and have served approximately 8,000 to-date.
Our volunteer participation prior to 2020 was 200 volunteers for our various events. After the pandemic, our volunteer assistance dropped to 20 people, largely due to our Armed Forces, college student population and retired community being restricted.
How have you used the Moody Foundation’s recent grant to serve your community during the pandemic?
As an organization, we had already worked to secure the funding for the Dodge Jones Youth Sports Center facility but were still seeking assistance for our operational expenses. Assistance from the Moody Foundation was an answered prayer and a blessing that is continuing to serve our team and our community. We are so thankful for the Moody Foundation and their willingness to impact West Texas.
We have continued our efforts in serving our community by hosting eight volleyball and basketball camps, four volleyball and basketball clinics, three volleyball and basketball tournaments, and two volleyball and basketball youth leagues. Our local community embraced our efforts to get our students engaged and has been willing to follow our procedures of participation while in our facility.
Where can the community go to find more information on how to volunteer, donate to your organization and/or a schedule of upcoming events?
To find out more about Abilene Youth Sports Authority, please visit www.Abileneysa.org.