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Registration, hype sky high as minor and youth sports prepare to return

“It’s in such high demand that our registration software on, of course on the morning of, crashed.”

BOW VALLEY – Registration for minor and youth sports has been a home run this year.

With a return to play for spring starting across the Bow Valley, local kids registering for available organized sports is already in full bloom – and in record-breaking style.

“It’s in such high demand that our registration software, of course, on the morning of, crashed,” said Rundle Mountain Cycling Club’s (RMCC) president, Stephanie O’Brien about registration opening on March 1.

“I was one of the parents waiting. I refreshed my screen and tried to register my kids at 8 [a.m.] and the system went down. Fortunately, we did get it back up in an hour and everyone was able to register, but my goodness, there is some demand.”

Local youth sports such as RMCC’s cycling, Canmore Illusions Gymnastics Club, and Bow Valley Little League are experiencing an influx of registrations for spring programming unlike years before.

The RMCC’s Spring Youth Revolution, nearly 200 spots, was mostly filled within 24 hours. With the exception of a few U7 and jump camp spots remaining, it was the busiest opening day for registration in club history.

It wasn't only one of the club's programs though, its youth All Mountain program and Rampage programs had its largest number of sign-ups in February, and adult programming registration surged more quickly than usual.

The physically-active community has been starved without organized sports and competitions after the 2020 pandemic year that’s trickled into 2021 shut down most of them.

Under provincial health guidelines as of March 8, organized sports must follow a regulated return policy such as limiting group training to 10, physical distancing and mandatory masks for participants not exercising. Games aren't allowed at this time.

As a local club adjusting to the new rules, Canmore Illusions Gymnastics Club restarted small group training in late-February as part of Alberta’s relaunch.

In the wake of the pandemic, Illusions experienced turnover among competitive athletes and coaches, but expects numbers to bounce back to its normal range of 400 later this year.

One indication is that registration for recreational programming, such as parkour, was sold out in less than a day.

Illusions is jumping at the opportunity to include additional recreation programs next month, especially of the popular parkour classes and male programming, while pulling back momentum under its women's artistic gymnastics (WAG) classes.

“The focus now is to rebuild the competitive programs from the ground up,” said club manager Ambra Marak. “We’re building back to that pre-competitive group and then eventually bringing everyone up under new WAG director [Nadov Simenauer].”

RMCC and Illusions remain optimistic that competition for its athletes will return in 2021.

After the 2020 season was called "out", the returning sluggers of Bow Valley Little League are ready to go yard in May and June.

The hope is out-of-town competition will be allowed this season, but the league's organizers are preparing for all scenarios.

“I really hope because we’re [playing] outside that it’ll make a difference and we’ll be able to move forward and have some sort of season for the kids,” said Brenda Ostman, operations manager.

“I have been in talks with Cochrane as well, and they are willing to add us into their bubble if that becomes an option for us.”

The local baseball diamond was empty in 2020 due the pandemic, but registration numbers are showing that the youth have missed swinging for the fences.

Due to this, Ostman is reaching out to any baseball-savvy locals who are interested in volunteering for the upcoming season.

"Youth sport relies heavily on volunteerism," said Ostman. "In the valley, we have a shortage of experience in coaching baseball, someone who knows the rules and regulations and also umpiring. Someone who can help us with those games.

"The other side is we're just looking to get outside, [and] we're looking forward to getting the kids together."

Ostman said people can email her at brenda.o@shaw.ca if they're interested in helping.


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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