For a lot of athletes in Cheshire, their sports experience didn’t start on a championship level. Before finding success in competition and/or recreation, youngsters often receive a helping hand in picking up skills and developing a passion for what they are doing.
At D-Bat Cheshire, a local branch of the SuperTots Sports Academy takes pride in teaching physical fitness, a passion for athletics, and motor and social skills to children in ages 2-5.
“It is super-fulfilling to get kids into sports at a young age,” said SuperTots Program Director Aryan White. “A lot of people feel that they have to be (age) 4 or 5 to start playing, but that is not the case with us.”
With D-Bat Cheshire being a multi-sport facility, SuperTots currently offers programs in basketball, baseball, soccer, football, and volleyball.
“We schedule by season,” stated White. “The summer programs are longer because we get more people coming through the door.”
Per season, White says that there are 50 to 150 children taking classes that typically run for 45 minutes. Sessions for older students can go for an hour.
“We never have more than eight kids in a class, so they get a lot of attention,” said White.
In the four-week program, coaches focus on building skills one step a time.
“For soccer, we typically start off with passing and then put that skill into a game, so that the kids can understand it,” explained White. “We also like to end with a (non-sports) game. It is nice for them to finish with something special.”
Over the last year and a half, SuperTots has picked up safety protocols to keep youngsters safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We sanitize all the equipment before, after, and during classes,” stated White. “We ask everyone, including parents, to wear masks and have temperature checks when people walk in to the building.”
SuperTots works with the Skyhawks Sports Academy, whicht focuses on skill building and on providing a safe environment for young athletes. While Super Tots teaches just young children, Skyhawks has programs for youngsters ages 4 to 14.
“It is really cool to see our 5-year-old students go on to participate in Skyhawks,” stated White. “We want the kids to move up and work on the advanced skills.”
A 2020 graduate of Central Connecticut State University, White became a local director for Skyhawks last year, but left to work for SuperTots.
“It was a big transition,” reflected White, who majored in Kinesiology and Exercise Science in college. “When I was a director, I was working 24/7, but now I’m working on things like personal relations and marketing.”
Along with Cheshire, nearby towns like Wallingford and North Haven have SuperTots Sports Academies as well. White said that the program is also working to plan something in Hamden.
“I reach out to the Parks and Recreation programs in the towns and go from there,” said White.
“It is nice to have communities like Cheshire help me out when I need it.”
White said that SuperTots registration was going up at the start of this summer, but with rising COVID-19 numbers due to the delta Variant, numbers saw a drop-off to end the season.
“For the fall, we have a sampler planned to hopefully get more kids in the door. We want to fill the classes,” stated White.
This year, White added, the organization is looking to introduce more sports, such as ice hockey, to increase participation.
“I feel that it is extremely important to stay active,” stated White.