Sports and Schools

Coupeville Boys and Girls Club serves community

Emma Brewer, left, and Jessica Piccone take part in a crafts project at the Boys and Girls Club this summer. - Jim Waller / Whidbey Examiner
Emma Brewer, left, and Jessica Piccone take part in a crafts project at the Boys and Girls Club this summer.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey Examiner

The Boys and Girls Club will continue its emphasis on providing physical fitness opportunities for the youth of Coupeville by sponsoring a flag football league this fall.

The four-week activity will run Sept. 18 to Oct. 11 with the help of volunteers from the Coupeville High School football team and coaching staff.

“We will have a weekly practice/clinic each Thursday night starting Sept. 18,” said Unit Director Jamie Scharich. The kids will be divided into two divisions: one for third and fourth graders and the other for fifth and sixth graders.

Games will be played on Saturday afternoons to avoid conflicts with morning soccer matches.

In addition to the flag football program, the club will continue to run youth basketball this winter.

Other physical activities are sprinkled consistently throughout the year.

“There is so much research out there that supports the relationship between physical play and learning,” Scharich said. “I also know that it is through physical play that we can help kids learn life lessons: winning and losing gracefully, sportsmanship, endurance and perseverance.”

Among the activities this summer were a Flag Football Day, an Olympic Day, a week-long unit on music and movement and a weekly dose of Triple Play, which includes running, jumping and games to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The Coupeville Boys and Girls Club opened in 2006, and Scharich began working for the club in 2013.

“I have a degree in elementary education and a masters in school administration,” Scharich said. “At the club I get to do all the joys of teaching –– I get to watch kids have light-bulb moments and I get to expand their worlds –– and then, at the end of the day, I don’t have to assign homework or stress about state-mandated testing, so it’s a perfect job for me.”

The club is much more than a fitness club for kids. It’s a daycare, self-help seminar and academic setting all rolled into one.

“I want the kids to see their world as bigger than themselves and that it is okay to dream big,” Scharich said.

During the school year, the club opens at 6:30 a.m. and provides children with a breakfast and a safe walk to school. At the end of the school day, the children are met by a Boys and Girls Club staff member to escort them back to the club for a snack and activity that is “fun with a purpose.”

“We want an element of learning without sacrificing fun,” Scharich explained.

A typical week includes Monday’s Power Hour, a national program that focuses on homework with tutoring.

Tuesday is Tournament Day, with an emphasis on sportsmanship.

Triple Play takes place on Wednesdays, fine arts are introduced on Thursdays and Friday is free choice.

Each week during the summer is built around a specific theme.

Coming this fall will be WISE Guys, followed by SMART Girls in the spring. These programs for third-through-fifth graders promote positive self image, healthy relationships and problem solving.

The club is expanding its reach to teenagers, according to Scharich.

“There is such a need for this demographic. If we had the opportunity, the space and the finances, I would have a teen program that met daily and not just once a week.”

This summer the club offered its first teen camp, meeting each Monday in July for a field trip. One adventure was a day-long boating trip with Captain John Stone.

This fall, the club will meet at the middle school on Wednesday afternoons and then offer a Teen Night the first Friday of each month beginning in October.

The club has integrated itself into the community.

“We serve the youth of this community,” Scharich said. “We open our doors when families need us most. When the Youth Coalition shut down, we opened our doors and took over their teen program. When the CWYAA (Central Whidbey Youth Athletic Association) cut its basketball program, we picked it up. When families were struggling to find morning childcare for their kids, we stepped up and started running an early-morning childcare program.”

The community has responded by accepting the club; the club is 100 percent self sustained. All of its yearly running costs come from the donations, fundraisers and fees, according to Scharich.

“Over the next few years, we hope to be breaking ground on a new building,” she said. “This would change our world. We could offer more programs, reach more kids and expand our athletic programs.”

The goal for the children, Scharich said, is that they “walk away feeling taller.”

“I want them to be proud of who they are. I hope they leave our building knowing that they are valued and important. I hope that they leave with a sense of ownership to the club and each other.”

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