Editorial Series Part Two

The Central Nebraska Sports Complex - an invaluable partner for Central Nebraska Social Cohesion By Kristen Maser

As published in the Grand Island Independent on 10/27/21.

In a previous editorial, we highlighted a family’s cost of having a youth participate on elite athletic teams. Today, we show how Central Nebraska youth athletes, who would normally never have the opportunity to play competitive sports, will get the chance to participate and display their athletic talent.

There are 4,054 children living below the poverty level in Hall and Adams Counties, and 4,430 children said to be ‘food insecure’. In both counties, 7,060 children live in single parent households. Parents and guardians who struggle to feed their children cannot buy them a $150 pair of basketball or volleyball shoes. As a result, we have to ask…

How many of these children could be great athletes or at the very least learn valuable discipline and life skills from their participation in athletics?

We may never know.

The vast majority of children stop playing sports at age 13. Most never play sports again. Research shows that children engaged in sports are better students, more engaged members of their community, and have a higher college entrance and success rate. Sports is not a cure-all for the problems Central Nebraska youth are facing, but it is a path forward…a path that you can help Central Nebraska youth walk.

We are building the Central Nebraska Sports Complex to increase the ability of our local young athletes to compete at higher and higher levels. “Local youth athletes” includes those who cannot afford basketball shoes or volleyball knee pads. It also includes those whose parents cannot travel to Kansas City or Omaha for weekend tournaments, let alone paying the tournament fees for their child to enter.

When the sports complex is running at full capacity, we expect to serve a large number of underserved and underrepresented young athletes each year in both volleyball and basketball. We expect to provide them with equipment, training, and access to elite teams and elite tournaments, at no or greatly reduced cost. The children we will be serving would otherwise have no means to achieve greatness through sports. Could they be great athletes? Help us find out, and help us level the socioeconomic playing field by giving kids whose families cannot afford the travel and the costs of youth sports the opportunity to achieve athletic success right here in Central Nebraska. .

The Central Nebraska Sports Complex Fund’s web page is hosted on the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation’s website.

You can also navigate to the CNSC’s website and learn all about the benefits the complex will have for the Central Nebraska region: pinnaclebanksportscomplex.org. I hope you take a moment and invest in our community today.