The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 5, 2005

Beckley-Raleigh County YMCA encourages variety of sports

Each year, young hoopsters from West Virginia and states all over the East Coast flock to Beckley for the YMCA Biddy Buddy Basketball Tournament. Motel marquees welcome their guests, and it’s nearly impossible to eat at a Harper Road restaurant without running into someone sporting team colors.

While the tournament and the Biddy Buddy program might be the best-known of the YMCA events and sports, Beckley-Raleigh County YMCA Senior Director Charlie Birkelbach and assistant programming director Jason Reger say the Y has a program for everyone.

Among the sports and recreation programs are cheerleading, racquetball, indoor and outdoor soccer, volleyball and, starting next spring, flag football. These activities range from competitive to recreational and are open to people of all ages.

Just as popular as Biddy Buddy, Birkelbach and Reger say, and with more participants, is the Y’s soccer league. Always a driving force behind the growing interest in soccer in the area, the organization’s influence is even larger since the completion of the YMCA’s Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex — a facility equipped with eight lighted soccer fields, two of which are stadium style complete with locker rooms. Birkelbach says the complex is one of the finest around and attracts college teams as well as the West Virginia State Soccer Tournament, which took place Friday and Saturday.

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Although youngsters might get their first taste of competition while participating in the programs, the YMCA’s sports and recreational programs are about much more, Reger says.

“It’s a fun environment,” he said. “We’d like to see every game end in a tie, but that can’t happen. We require that every kid plays half the game, so your strongest players and your weakest players are going to get the same amount of playing time.”

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