Youth Sports Philosophy

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Welcome to the City of Novato Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department's youth sports programs. Participation in athletics plays a valuable role in the healthy development of children and teens. Participation builds self-esteem, promotes teamwork, develops physical and mental skills, and is an integral part of the maturing process. It is our responsibility to provide safe, high quality programs that nurture all of these important life experiences for children.

This handbook is intended to outline our program philosophy, goals, and training requirements, as well as to provide you with our code of ethics for parents, participants, and coaches. In providing guidelines for ethical conduct by all, we hope to create a mutual understanding of our expectations and a structure that protects Novato's youth. Your child's safety and personal growth is of utmost importance to us. It is our goal to work in partnership with you, and provide a safe and positive experience for your family.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at (415) 899-8200, or you can reach us on the City website.

We look forward to your involvement with the City of Novato youth sports programs.

Novato Parks, Recreation and Community Services
Youth Sports Program

Who we are...
The City of Novato Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department (NPRCS) is one of six city departments dedicated to providing services to Novato residents, and implementing citywide goals and priorities as identified by the City Council. Enhancing the quality of life for Novato residents is one of the Council's priority goals.

The Department is also a member agency of the California Park and Recreation Society (CPRS). CPRS includes among it purposes, improvement of the human condition and quality of life. This purpose is implemented on a local level through community recreation programs that promote positive self-esteem, which is considered fundamental to healthy growth, development throughout life, and social independence.

The goal of the NPRCS youth sports program is to provide quality programs for young people of all backgrounds and skill levels. Participants are encouraged to enjoy a variety of recreational sports activities in a safe and wholesome environment.

We believe in the benefits of participation in organized sports. Participation in sports has proven to build self-esteem, promote teamwork, develop the body as well as the mind, and is an integral part of the maturing process. Involvement in youth sports should promote learning and participation first, and competition second.

Our mission is to teach the importance of teamwork, skills and sportsmanship and to provide a safe, nurturing and fun environment for all children regardless of skill level.

We strive to offer quality sports opportunities to aid in youth development, and fulfill the recreation interests of the community. Novato youth sports program affords children the opportunity to interact with positive adult role models.

In fulfillment of this mission, the program seeks to provide the highest level of qualified program leaders who are trained to plan and conduct children's sports programs.

  • Coaches will provide necessary attention and assistance to all participants,
    particularly to those in need of additional coaching.
  • Coaches should stress good sportsmanship and fair play as standard behavior.
  • Any abusive or aggressive behaviors that may jeopardize a child's well being are not acceptable, and will not be tolerated.
  • Because of the influence coaches exert, any illegal, unethical, or questionable behavior that may impact children will not be tolerated by us, and should not be accepted by participants, parents or sports fans.
  • Every effort will be made to ensure participation is a worthwhile and positive life experience.

Program Goals

Provide the Novato community with a variety of sports opportunities for children that will enrich their lives and enhance their physical and mental well being in a fun and positive environment.

Provide the best possible indoor and outdoor facilities that benefit all sports activities.

Provide sports opportunities that are interesting, varied, productive, and aimed at improving all players' skills.

Offer a balance of programs to provide both competitive and recreational sports opportunities.

Encourage youth to learn skills before competing, to encourage a love for the game and lifelong sports participation.

Treat each participant as an individual, while demonstrating concern for their individual needs and well being.

Provide the most qualified staff to share their knowledge and skills of the game and serve as a positive role model for all participants.

Emphasize a spirit of sportsmanship, cooperation, and mutual respect for all.

At the end of each session of participation in a youth sports activity, participants should feel inspired, find they have made new friends, learned new skills, and experienced an enhanced sense of confidence and self-esteem.

Code of Ethics...

NPRCS provides a separate Code of Ethics for coaches, participants, and parents of children involved in our youth sports program. The Code of Ethics have been developed specifically to emphasize the principles of the NPRCS program goals and philosophy. They are intended to remind each child, coach and parent of what they should expect from the program and from each other. By their involvement in the youth sports program all participants, parents and coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with these principles.

COACHES' CODE OF ETHICS

  • I will place the emotional and physical well-being of my players ahead of a personal desire to win, and remember that the game is for children, not adults.
  • I will treat each player as an individual and keep in mind the wide range of emotional and physical development within age groups.
  • I will do my best to organize practices that are fun and challenging for all of my players, and to provide a safe playing situation.
  • I promise to review the information provided by NPRCS on basic first aid principles and practice techniques needed to treat minor injuries of my players.
  • I will lead by example in demonstrating fair play and sportsmanship to all my players.
  • I will provide a sports environment for my team that is free from tobacco, alcohol, and abusive or aggressive behaviors.
  • I will be knowledgeable in the rules of each sport that I coach, and I will teach these rules to my players.
  • I will use those coaching techniques appropriate for each of the skills that I teach.
  • I will remember that I am a youth sports coach, and understand that my interactions shall be limited to practices, games, and team functions only.
  • I hereby pledge to uphold the NPRCS Coaches' Code of Ethics.

PARTICIPANTS' CODE OF ETHICS

  • I will practice good sportsmanship and will encourage it in fellow players, coaches, officials and parents at every game and practice.
  • I will attend every practice and game that I can, and will notify my coach if I cannot.
  • I will expect that all players on my team shall receive a fair amount of playing time, and will understand that observing others is also an effective way to learn.
  • I will do my very best to listen and learn from my coaches, and alert my parents if I am uncomfortable in any situation.
  • I will treat my coaches, other players, officials and fans with respect, and I will expect to be treated that way too.
  • I deserve to have fun during my sports experience and will alert parents or coaches if it stops being fun!
  • I deserve to play in an environment free of tobacco or alcohol, and expect adults and players to refrain from abusive or aggressive behaviors at all of my sports events.
  • I will encourage my parents to be involved with my sport in some capacity because it's important to me.
  • I will not let my sports participation interfere with doing my very best in school.
  • I will remember that sports is an opportunity to learn and have fun, and that winning the game is not the only important outcome of my participation.

PARENTS' CODE OF ETHICS

  • I will encourage good sportsmanship by demonstrating positive support for all players, coaches, and officials at every game, practice, or other youth sports event.
  • I will place the emotional and physical well being of my child ahead of a personal desire to win.
  • I will insist that my child play in a safe and healthy environment.
  • I will support coaches and officials working with my child, in order to encourage a positive and enjoyable experience for all.
  • I will expect that a coaches interaction with my child shall be limited to practices, games, and team functions only.
  • I will demand a sports environment for my child that is free of tobacco or alcohol, and will refrain from abusive or aggressive behaviors at all youth sports events.
  • I will remember that the game is for children - not adults.
  • I will do my very best to make youth sports fun for my child.
  • I will teach my child to treat all other players, coaches, fans, and officials with respect.
  • I will require that my child's coach uphold the Coaches' Code of Ethics.

Hiring, Training, and Contracts

The youth sports program utilizes a mix of paid staff, volunteers, and independent contractors to provide recreational youth sports programs.

We require all City of Novato volunteers and staff working with children under the age of 18 to be fingerprinted. Fingerprints are sent through LIVESCAN, a computerized fingerprinting program, to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for clearance to work with minors. Any DOJ report showing a record of crimes involving children, assault, or other serious crimes will eliminate prospective candidates from working for our Department.

First aid and CPR training sessions are provided for City staff, and we request certification within six months of hire. Training provided to staff and volunteers includes training specific to the sport they are teaching, department rules and regulations for each sport, age appropriate expectations, our program philosophy, and department and City policies.

Before the beginning of each sports season coaches meetings and coaches clinics are
scheduled. All staff and volunteers are expected to attend and receive training in proper coaching techniques, how to handle discipline, care of facilities, safety issues, and how to respond in case of injury. City staff arranges game schedules, as well as facility scheduling for practice times. Most of our coaches are volunteers and once they are assigned a team they are in charge of running their own practices. During the season City staff works at all games and are available throughout the season to assist parents and coaches with concerns or issues that may arise.

In addition to volunteers and staff we also maintain contracts with businesses, booster groups, and individuals that specialize in providing instruction or skills training in a particular sport. These are called independent contractors. Generally contracts are with businesses that provide services off-site and across a regional area, rather than in a facility of their own. Many of our sports camp programs which emphasize more advanced skills training, or have a more competitive focus, are provided through these contracts.

Independent contractors are not employees of the City. We require independent contractors to have a current Novato business license, and provide proof of general liability insurance for their business. We provide them with an overview of our program philosophy and goals, and maintain a written contract that specifies services they will provide through the program.

Partnering for Safety

We provide a program structure, goals, rules, and a philosophy that emphasizes participation, learning, and child development. We provide training, and a screening process that includes fingerprinting and a DOJ background check of all volunteers and staff working in our program. All of this is to ensure a safe and positive experience for your child and your family.

It is unfortunate, but true, that people with an unhealthy interest in children tend to gravitate toward opportunities to work closely with children. The procedures we have in place are intended to make sure there is no opportunity in our programs. We ask you to partner with us to ensure that growing up is full of positive experiences for your child.

Parents can do their part by sharing a few simple ideas with their children:

  • Report any behavior that makes you uncomfortable to your parents.
  • No adult should ask a child to keep secrets from their parents. It's important to tell.
  • Every child has the right to say "no" to an adult.

Parents should consider these as warning signs ...

  • There should never be a "closed" practice where parents are not welcome.
  • Special attention or one-on-one assistance should be offered within the group setting.
  • Be wary of social invitations by adults that only include your children.

Parent Participation...

  • Actively participate in programs with your child as a coach, team parent, or official.
  • If you can't actively participate, attend as many games and practices as you can.
  • Talk to your child - find out if they're having fun.
  • Participate in all team parties, gatherings, and special events.