SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) Sports can teach you more than just how to play a game. It also offers many valuable lessons about life such as sportsmanship, social skills, confidence and how to play by the rules.
But for one youth sports academy, they go above and beyond to make sure their athletes understand one additional very important lesson; how to give back to the community.
Elite Level Sports Academy in Salt Lake City is an indoor baseball and softball facility for all ages. They believe in showing their players how to care about those around them by donating their time, and resources to those in need.
“Our players are required to have a 3.0 GPA in order to play on our teams,” said Morgan Swope-Haglund, an assistant at Elite Level Sports Academy. “We also require an hour of community service a week from each player, which is to be done outside of their own families.”
The players often do things like yard work, helping neighbors move, volunteer at nursing homes around the valley and even help the disabled.
Swope-Haglund said they do this because they feel that it is important for the youth to learn how important it is to give back to the community. She said it also gives them some responsibility and makes them feel good about themselves.
For the months of November and December however, Denise Swope, owner of the facility made the decision they were going to work together to do something bigger. Something that would really make an impact not just on the community, but for the players as well.
In November, the three youth teams held a fundraiser hit-a thon to help in the fight against breast cancer.
“We did a hit-a-thon for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer,” said Swope-Haglund.” We had all our teams participate and go out and raise money. Then they came in, used our cages and for every hit they got a certain amount of money that was pledged.”
When it was all said and done, the players raised $4,204.
“We are so proud of our Elite players and their hard work put into this service project,” said Denise Swope. “This donation will hopefully help towards a cure and brighter future.”
In December, they held their first ever food drive. Players brought in non-perishable food they had collected to be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. Located in Salt Lake City, the Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when they are forced to travel to another city for a more effective treatment.
The players then helped deliver the items so they could see exactly how their donations helped to fill up their pantry, and bring cheer to those whose days are sometimes very difficult.
The Elite philosophy sums up exactly what they hope each player who comes in and out of their doors will learn:
“To develop the skills, discipline and strong character necessary for our players to reach their highest level of personal growth and achievement while emphasizing a strong commitment to education.”
Elite Level Sports Academy was started two years ago by Denise Swope who played softball for many years growing up. She has dedicated her life to helping the youth learn and love the game. In her desire to give back to the community, she wanted to build a place where the youth could train and develop. Elite offers private lessons, skills and drills programs along with speed, agility and strength training.
They currently have three competitive teams, ages 9,12 and 14. Swope-Haglund said they are continually trying to broadening their teams to different ages as well. Their coaching staff consists of a wide variety of experience, from high school to the big leagues.
For more information about Elite Level Sports Academy, you can visit its website.