Upward Sports Play with Purpose


Upward Blue Star Military Kids 'Have a Ball' on Upward Sports

Posted on: 2010-11-01
Written by: Michele Bennett

SPARTANBURG, S.C., Nov. 1, 2010—Children of actively deployed United States Military personnel are getting a special opportunity to play basketball, soccer, flag football and to cheer at church-sponsored sports leagues around the country through Upward Sports. The world’s largest Christian sports league for children, Upward Sports offers a scholarship to every child whose parent or legal guardian is serving overseas. 

Caz McCaslin, president of the Spartanburg, South Carolina organization explains the reason for the program: "We don’t want to take the blessing of freedom for granted, and we don’t ever want our military men and women to feel like they are ‘out of sight and out of mind.’  The very least we can do is to say ‘thank you’ to them by making opportunities available to their children through this type of scholarship." 

Military families don’t have to sit the season out

Lisa Wright, whose children Chloe (11) and Timmy (8) are both playing Upward Sports this season, is grateful for the scholarship and the support it expresses. "During a time when much of America has forgotten about the daily grind of combat, military families are still ‘in the fight.’ More than anything, this scholarship is a vote of support to our family for the unique sacrifices we make for our country." 

Struggling beneath a 9.6% unemployment rate, many families are making tough choices about how they spend discretionary money. Barbara Shatto’s youngest daughter, Hope, received a military scholarship last season to cheer with the league at their local church. "For me, as a single mom, it literally made the difference between letting my daughter participate and sitting the season out. Now my eight-year-old is playing and my fifteen-year-old and I are coaching and we’re all having a great time!" 

Kids get a boost of confidence, parents have fun too

The benefits of physical activity for children are well-known, but these military parents recognize particular value in the Upward Sports Program. "Military parents strive to create as much normalcy as possible, Wright explains.  "The Upward Sports Coaches offer the consistency, structure and sense of belonging that helps military kids thrive. Their enjoyment and confidence level increases in proportion to their increasing skills on the court and their positive relationships off the court."

Shatto adds, "Get involved. You'll get rewards beyond your imagination--not only for your children but also for yourself.” 

Help more military kids “have a ball” this season!

Since the program was launched in 2007, Upward Sports has offered military scholarships to about 950 children K5 through sixth-grade children with a deployed parent. But since the United States had 1,478,455 active duty military personnel as of September 1, 2010—many more children are eligible to participate. Though Upward Sports offers the military scholarship for all leagues, year-round, Veteran’s Day offers a special opportunity to raise awareness of its availability. 

  • Tell someone! Tweet, post or blog this release: Military kids ‘have a ball’ on Upward Sports: www.upward.org/military  
  • Ready to play? Contact your local league if you or someone you know is eligible for the military scholarship
  • Tell your story. Email us at socialmedia@upward.org if you’ve benefitted from the scholarship
  • Join the conversation. Like our Facebook page to become part of the ongoing conversation

The world's largest Christian sports league for children, Upward Sports offers a first-class sports experience that emphasizes  healthy competition, sportsmanship, skills building and fun versus the "win-at-all-costs" mentality found in many children sports leagues.  Upward Sports Leagues teach K5 through sixth-grade children skills for the sports arena and values for life through basketball, soccer, flag football and cheerleading leagues. Today, more than one million people from 46 states play, coach, referee or volunteer in Upward Sports Leagues.

Permission of Use by: Upward Sports

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Upward Unlimited is a non-profit organization that partners with local evangelical churches to provide resources and training for conducting kids sports leagues and camps. Upward Basketball, Upward Cheerleading, Upward Soccer, and Upward Flag Football are all ministry programs of Upward Unlimited.