Nathan Floyd takes a swing at the ball during the Start Smart program. Photo by Jim Davis/Murfreesboro Parks & Rec.
Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department has introduced a new program to its already long list of year round activities for the residents of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.
Start Smart, part of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, is an introductory baseball program for boys and girls ages 3-5 years old. The program prepares children for T-ball, baseball and softball in a fun non-threatening environment.
Brittany Garrett of Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Athletic division is in charge of the program that uses a small practice field at SportsCom.
“We are really pleased to be offering this program in Parks and Rec.,” Garrett said. “The kids and the parents will work together in learning about the sport and the skills it takes to play the sport. And the parents are a big part of the program.
The parents rotate with their child to each station and work with their child with either throwing, hitting, catching and running bases. They are the coach and mentors.”
The local program has been tweaked somewhat, and the age has been lowered to 2-4 years old. Each child received a glove, bat and ball all made of soft material. Each participant also received a T-shirt.
The program runs seven weeks with each Saturday session lasting for one hour. A limit of 20 players was set for the first program and those slots filled up quickly.
“Running the bases and hitting seemed to be really popular so we will bring more bases and hitting tees next session.” Garrett said. “But more than anything, the kids look like they were comfortable doing each skill station with their parents. They are not being help by someone they did not know. Their parents are right there with them each step of the way.”
The philosophy of Start Smart is to teach the children and their parents the basics of organized baseball and softball without a fear of getting hurt and with no pressure of competition. Age appropriate equipment is used in teaching station.
“This Start Smart program is going to be a great teaching tool,” Garrett said. ‘Start Smart also has developmental programs in basketball, football, soccer, golf and tennis. “They are having fun learning how to throw, hit, catch and run.
“And hopefully when they get older and decide to play either baseball or softball, this program will have played an important part for them to feel comfortable playing the game and help in their success at either baseball or softball.”
David Floyd is one of the parents involved in the local Start Smart program.
“My son Nathan has been watching baseball on television with me the last couple of years and he really shows an interest in baseball, so that is why we signed him up.” said Floyd, who is a Texas transplant and a huge Houston Astros fan.
Over the years Floyd has umpired youth sports and hopes to some day coach his son.
“What I really liked about this program is there is nothing competitive,” said Floyd. “The kids get to work on their social skills with the other children, develop their motor skills, have fun and learn about baseball. This is a great program and I am glad it is offered.”