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A yogurt breakfast bowl makes for a great start to a busy day. (Cristen Clark/Special to Agweek)

Six things to remember about youth sports

Wintertime in the Midwest is certainly the time of year to be indoors. Wild, pent-up children need a release, and youth sports are a big business in many communities and a sacred component of rural America. High school programs are extending their reach and involving children of younger ages in their "feeder programs." This comes with a hefty amount of work, investing time and energy putting together great opportunities for learning and play for their future athletes.

Though fleeting, the memories of the experiences of participation in youth sports tend to stay with kids their entire lives. As a former collegiate-athlete-turned parent-volunteer-coach of young children, I'm constantly reminded of what the game is truly about, and how many life lessons young children can walk away with and how impactful this time can be.

1. Do your best. Have fun. It does seem cliché doesn't it? I can assure you, after a lifetime of youth sports and an athletic career that took me through my college years, the years that I had the most fun are still the most memorable ones. The coaches who allowed fun to be had but had high expectations of hard work are still my favorite, regardless of the sport or season's outcome.

2. Be thankful for volunteer coaches. When parent volunteers step forward, this is so special in youth sports. In the athletic climate we have these days, sometimes the effort goes unnoticed or seems expected. Let me tell you, anyone who steps up to accept the challenge has my vote! Youth sports would not exist without volunteers, on and off the field.

3. The things your children remember aren't always the wins and losses. Sure, winning is fun, only liars and losers will tell you different. Teaching kids to be champions at heart and hard workers is worth every bit of time and sweat invested in their season.

4. Every team will hold a special place in their memories. No matter where kids end up, or who they play for, each team and coach they played for will reserve a special place in their heart. If you have the opportunity to coach a child, making the experience positive is the most important thing to do. Small things you can do and say to make each child feel special and needed by their team will make the experience memorable.

5. Surround yourself and your child with quality people. This is important. When you select a travel ball team to play with, getting on a team with great parents, coaches and players will make the season the best it can be.

6. Remember, these years don't last forever. Before you know it, your little one will be done with sports as you know it. (Then you'll be pining away until your grandchildren can play!) Soak up every moment.

Fuel your young athlete for a long day of ball games with a bright, colorful yogurt breakfast bowl!

Yogurt Breakfast Bowls

Makes 1 large serving (totally shareable)


1 — 5.3 oz. carton whole milk yogurt (vanilla, almond, or other flavor)

1 small kiwi, peeled, sliced

4 cherries, pitted, sliced in half

2 tablespoons blueberries

2 tablespoons granola

1-2 tablespoons pecan halves or pieces

1-2 teaspoon honey (optional)

In a cereal-sized bowl, add whole milk yogurt in one even layer. Arrange kiwi slices, cherries, blueberries, granola and pecan halves around top of yogurt. Drizzle with honey if desired.