Parents learn to cope with children's busy sports schedules

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Businesses sponsorship makes many sports teams possible.

School's out for most area students, and children like to take full advantage of the recreational activities that come with summer sunshine. But that can mean parents are catering their day to a busy schedule, shuffling children from camps to Little League games after work.

Some summer recreation would not be possible if it weren't for area businesses that sponsor sports teams.

Bob Neff, owner of Ford Groves in Cape Girardeau, said his auto dealership sponsors at least one of the baseball teams in the Cape Area Youth Soccer Association.

"We have 75 employees here, and the teams we are most likely to sponsor would be those whose players are kids of our employees," said Neff. "We don't look on this as advertising, it's not that kind of concept. We just hope the families of kids on teams have a positive outlook on our sponsorships."

Rich Gross, general manager of Jackson Machine & Manufacturing in Jackson, has been sponsoring sports teams since his business opened in 1999. Gross is the past president of the Jackson Boys League.

"Our company has sponsored baseball and swimming teams, wrestling and football teams, and even some high school sporting events," said Gross. "Businesses that sponsor teams don't have to be actively involved in it, but we like to be.

"It costs money to sponsor teams, but sponsorships make it easier for the kids to play the sports they want. So we're happy about that," he said.

Big River Telephone in Cape Girardeau began sponsoring sports teams three years ago, when the company acquired the assets of LDD. Big River president Kevin Cantwell said his company sponsors sports from Little League to college level.

"The city of Jackson has a wrestling program, and we supply shirts for them, and we buy uniforms for softball and basketball teams," said Cantwell. "We give money to different programs around the area. We sponsor a lot of Little League teams."

Cantwell said the name of his company is on jerseys worn by youths, but name branding is not as important as giving back to the community.

"A lot of kids on these teams are kids of our employees, and we have employees who coach a lot of teams. We're a family at Big River, and we also donate money to help lower the costs of kids getting to play," said Cantwell.

Nan Charleston of Oran, Mo., has three children ages 2, 6 and 9 who play T-ball, and will take swimming lessons this summer. During the day, she works at Kids Academy in Chaffee, Mo.

"I take the kids to work, so that makes scheduling easier for me," she said. "And parents help other parents. Sometimes I'll take my kids and other kids to camps at Notre Dame, and another parent will bring them home. We try to help each other be organized."

Charleston said Chaffee has recreational activities for youths such as basketball and dance camps, and many area children participate in them.

Dave and Sandy Miller of Jackson have three children ages 18, 14 and 12. Sandy Miller recently went back to work after 17 years of being a full-time homemaker.

"When I look back, I wonder how I did all that running around," she said. "There was Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, soccer, basketball, track, plays, band concerts, swim lessons, birthday parties, sleep sleepovers. I could go on and on."

Miller, a Girl Scout leader for 10 years, said she received a lot of help from other moms doing the same thing. Her schedule was whatever the children's schedules were, and that included church activities, summer art camp, trips to the park and library reading programs.

"Now that the kids are older, we don't do as much running as we used to. Things are still very busy, but in a different way," she said.

Dave Miller said his job kept him on the road for many years, so he was not able to help with the children much during the week. "But when I was home on the weekends, I was plenty busy. We literally ran the tires off the van. It was go, go, go," said Miller, who owns a landscaping business.

Joni Adams of Cape Girardeau thinks its hard for parents to keep up with their children's schedules, whether it's during the school year or the summer. One daughter is 13, and she's signed up for two week-long church camps, a week-long theater camp at the university and a two-week dance camp. And she takes piano lessons every week.

"Our other daughter is playing softball this summer, which means at least one game and one practice every week," said Adams, who works at Southeast Missouri Hospital. "At 9, she still goes to daycare in the summer, and she's signed up for a week at Girl Scout Camp. Thankfully, my church is providing transportation for her vacation Bible school."

Adams said she sometimes thinks her children have better social schedules than she does.

"It's great when you can team up with other parents to carpool kids to summer events," she said. "Especially when activities fall in the middle of the day."

Adams said she's not involved in coaching, but coaches are always needed.

One thing she greatly depends on is her Palm Pilot. "I would be lost without it. It tells me where I'm supposed to be and when."

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