You know it’s September in Tucker when the soccer fields at Henderson Park overflow with Tiny Tykes and Club Teams.
It’s time for another season of TYSA, the largest youth sports association in DeKalb County, which happens to be located right here in Tucker. The club started out in 1978 as a small recreational team and has grown through the years to be a powerhouse in the state of Georgia. TYSA features over 1,000 athletes on more than 100 teams, ranging in age from 3-18 and skill levels from beginner to the highly-competitive Academy and Select teams. The club draws from all over northeast DeKalb and Gwinnett County and the TYSA tournaments bring teams from all over the state to stay, eat and play in Tucker.
TYSA has long had a unique and symbiotic relationship with the County Parks and Rec system. The club gets first rights for field usage in exchange for full maintenance including bathrooms, facilities and fields. It is thanks to the parents and volunteers of TYSA that Henderson Park has such an amazing set of fields and facilities. In fact, the whole club is run mostly by volunteers.
Mimi and Mike Sanders have been among those volunteers for 18 years, when their eldest daughter played on the U6 recreational team. Shortly thereafter, they signed up as volunteer coaches and have moved through various board positions. They now head up the concessions, even though their three daughters are grown and no longer playing with the club.
“Through the years, TYSA has afforded our girls amazing opportunities for growth,” Mimi says, “not only athletically, but through community building and service as referees.”
Mimi and Mike serve drinks, treats and food to the recreational players and make an effort to speak with each athlete asking questions like: “What did you do well in today’s game?” “Did you learn a new skill?” “Did you encourage a teammate?” They work with the coaches and ask that each team nominate someone from the opposing team as Player of the Game to highlight the player with the most heart. Each winner receives a free slushie as their award.
It is obvious that TYSA brings much more to a family than just an outlet to let your toddler run and chase a ball. It is a foundation for many of life’s lessons, a springboard for athletic challenge and a mainstay on Tucker’s recreation scene.
For more information on how to sign up your child or to volunteer with TYSA, visit www.tysa.com.