According to Audie Chapman, NYAA President, the interaction children get through sports is especially important during times of fully remote schooling.
By Sonu Babu
Photo: The Northside Steelers football program is part of the Northside Youth Athletic Association, which is geared toward children ages five to 14. Courtesy of Audie Chapman
The Northside Youth Athletic Association (NYAA) is aiming to get youth involved in community sports as they relaunch their programs after the COVID-19 pandemic put them on hiatus.
Children ages five to 14 can participate in NYAA football, cheerleading, track, wrestling, baseball, and other activities throughout the year. The Northside Steelers, the organization’s football and cheerleading program, compete in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Youth Athletic Initiative (SPYAI) as one of eight teams.
Audie Chapman, president of NYAA, says the organization is focusing on outreach to the Northside, since there are limited athletic activities available there for children. Chapman believes sports are important for children to participate in.
“Athletics are a great resource because it teaches teamwork, responsibility, discipline, and fitness,” said Chapman. “Those attributes are great for the development of a young kid.”
According to Chapman, the program creates an environment where kids can go out and interact with others, which is especially key during times of fully online schooling. Besides sports, NYAA also offers the Eugene Goodwine and Mike Knight Literacy Program.
Founded in 2019, the goal of the literacy program is to encourage students to read at least 20 books before their school term is over. Gift cards of students’ choice are awarded to the ones who complete this goal.
Chapman has been the president of the association for about a month. Before this role, he was on the board for five years. Chapman was motivated to pursue this position because of the organization’s mission to help children grow and develop through sports.
“To see a kid in the grocery store… showing me his grades, that’s so rewarding to me and I want to do that over and over again to influence more kids,” said Chapman.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the organization since they were not doing a lot of outreach during that time. Prior to the pandemic, NYAA served over 250 people, and now there are 61 people who participate. Chapman says they are now looking for community funding.
“We had to start from the ground up. It was like starting all over again,” said Chapman.
You can find and register for any of NYAA’s programs on their Facebook page.