Easy Ways to Stay Active This Summer

Now that the weather is clearing up, it’s about that time to start acting on that New Year’s resolution of getting back in shape.

We all have obstacles that get in the way of getting active. Expensive gym memberships, not enough time, too much equipment, and all of the other reasons that keep us from achieving our health goals.

Adobe Spark

Buffalo Soccer Club is here to help you out with these easy ways to stay active that don’t get in the way of the normal routine. These activities can be done at home, at school, at work, and just about any where.

  • Walking
    • The easiest way to getting active is just walking. From walking around the park to walking around the house, there’s nothing less time-consuming than walking. It also costs nothing. Go for a short walk before breakfast or after dinner.
  • Take the Stairs
    • Not everyone has a step ladder, but the stairs are just as effective. Try to use the stairs any chance you get. As well as working your hamstrings, glutes, and calves, your core will thank you too. You can even try some simple calf raises while your there. Just use the railing for balance.
  • Stand Up While Talking on the Phone
    • A phone call doesn’t have to get in the way of your exercise plan. Need to take a phone call? Stand up while on the phone or continue that walk. You could do some stairs but there’s a risk of sounding out of breath to the person on the other line.
  • Stretching and Squatting
    • If you’re just waling around the house, you can stretch to reach items in high places and squat or bend to look at items at floor level. Stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles, hence improving circulation. Squatting can also help improve your upper and lower body strength.
  • Dancing
    • Probably the most fun way to stay active is just dance. Put some music on and just move (or jump) around. Dance while cleaning or throw a dance party. Dancing can improve your muscle tone and also help with weight management. Dancing is just playing, and everyone can play.

The most important tip is to stay consistent. Every day may be too much depending on where you are. Every other day may be more suitable. Find yourself a workout partner and hold each other accountable for getting in a little 10 minute walk.

You can find more health tips at American Health Association.

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#EveryonePlays: When You Play, Everyone Plays

Algonquin Sports will be launching a social media campaign on June 19, Everyone Plays, an awareness campaign focused on showing the importance of play for children at all ages. The campaign will run until July 31.

Devoted to assisting children in developing healthy and active lifestyles, Algonquin Sports hosts an annual fundraiser, the 716 Champions League, in which funds are raised to support Buffalo Soccer Club, just one of the programs offered by Algonquin Sports which enables young players in underserved areas across our community the opportunity and access to play.

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GETTING KIDS TO PLAY

Research done by the Aspen Institute found that: 

  • Number of active youth are dropping

Youth from ages 6 to 12 who were active through sports on a regular basis fell from 30.2 percent in 2008 to 26.6 percent in 2015.

  • Income gap between families create more at-risk youth

1 in 5 children from ages 6 to 12 from homes with less than $25,000 in income reached an “active to healthy level” (25 minutes of physical activity at least three times a week).

  • The health and economic benefits

If just 50 percent of youth maintained an “active to healthy level”:

  • 243,830 fewer overweight and obese youths
  • $20 billion of direct medical costs saved
  • 4 million years of life saved

To see more of this research, visit The Aspen Institute: Project Play.

HOW CAN I HELP?

To date, Algonquin Sports serves approximately 2000 youth in the Western New York community. Algonquin Sports provides kids in underserved areas opportunities to participate in a low-cost or free sports program while exposing them to 75-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity for 2-3 days a week.

As a part of our initiative, you can share your own photos and videos showing how you play with us by using the hashtag #EveryonePlays and tagging Buffalo Soccer Club and your friends.

We’ll be holding contests for the best photo using the using the hashtag #EveryonePlays and we’ll share that photo on our social media accounts.

Sign up for 716 Champions League, a fun and friendly soccer tournament! Players represent their favorite English Premier teams and raise funds, individually and as a team to compete for the fundraising trophy and the top overall team. All funds that are raised will go directly towards Buffalo Soccer Club to grow the number of opportunities for youth in underserved areas of our community to have access to mentors, sports, and safe places to play!

You can represent your favorite English Premier team and play in this year’s 716 Champions League by visiting 716 Champions League Tournament.

Because when you play, #EveryonePlays.

 

Taking Advantage of Teaching Moments

I’m trying to learn something new everyday. Whether it’s a new way to tie my shoes or the fact that dolphins can recognize humans by checking their skeletal structure using their sonar. (They often help ship wreck victims fight off sharks and stay afloat because as mammals, they understand what drowning is.)

It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that I didn’t know, it could be something that I just wasn’t aware of. Or something that I kind of knew, but could never put the words to.

Transitioning into adolescence, I think it was more of the latter. Certain concepts such as integrity or confidence were sometimes complicated to understand when I was younger. I had heard it said before, but I may not have had the words or complete understanding of it to answer the question of “what does it mean to have integrity?”

The great thing about sports is that they both ask those questions and help answer them. There’s always a teaching moment in sports. The opportunity to learn something that maybe I had never thought of. All you have to do is catch them in the fast-paced sports environment.

Sports-based youth development programs are built around those teaching moments. Shaking hands with the other team after a contest shows sportsmanship. Not breaking the rules when a coach or referee isn’t looking shows integrity. These and much more are concepts that we learn through sports and can take out into the real world.

Having played sports for a majority of my life and having learned many lessons, the one lesson that stands out to me was a more personal lesson.

Back in high school, I played for our varsity football team. In the middle of my senior season, I was making my first start. I played a decent first half that game, but I gave up a couple of big plays. I knew I wasn’t playing bad but the mistakes I had made stayed in my mind. I knew if I had made any more, we would probably lose the game and I would feel responsible. So I faked a mild concussion, and took myself out of the game. (Yes, very extreme).

I told myself that I was doing it to help the team but it was really that I wasn’t that confident in myself. It’s moments like these that make sports a great place to learn something new. Possibly even learn something new about yourself and grow from those experiences.

When we look back at our experiences in sports, we can find that some of those moments put definitions to terms such as “integrity” or “confidence” or “teamwork” and what it means to embody those concepts.

Sports didn’t teach me any facts about dolphins but it did show me that when you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.

-Dallas Taylor

The Healthy Snack of the Past, Present – and the Pros?

I recently came across an ESPN feature article in which a long-time NBA secret addiction was revealed. What started as a simple thought and craving of one player, is now a league-wide obsession. It’s a something that has been overlooked through the years and criminally underestimated for it’s nutritional value. But now that it’s time to start getting ready for the summer and a new soccer season, I need a snack that will help me get and stay fit.

The National Basketball Association has that snack and it’s a childhood classic.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.

Yes. The established go-to lunch of our elementary days has been the established go-to snack and daily regiment for many teams in the Association. It has become so much of a rage around the league, team chefs now have a variety of PB&J sandwiches (buffet style) available for the players offering a different types of breads, artisanal jams and organic peanut-butters. Some teams have even expanded the way the sandwich is eaten with PB&J-flavored oatmeal, PB&J recovery shakes, PB&J pancakes and PB&J waffles.

Now I don’t want to be as elaborate as a professional NBA chef. But I sure can stick to the classic smooth peanut butter with grape jelly on white bread – actually, let’s try wheat.

What’s so great about this is, it’s such a simple snack that anyone can have – unless you’re allergic…I’m sorry. But you also don’t have to be so intense about staying fit with protein shakes, or be super conscious about “how many calories are in this?”

The PB&J is convenient and portable. They go along perfect with any other complimentary snack. Most importantly, they’re easy to make and hard to mess up. You can pack a couple for your child’s lunch, and yours. You can take a couple to soccer for before and after.

The PB&J is something that I had removed from my life for some reason and now I’m letting it back in.

I don’t know what made me stray away from it. Was it the elementary feel of it? Did I grow out of what was the staple of my childhood Thomas the Train lunchbox? Who knows. But if it’s good enough for Lebron James, then I’ll have what he’s having.

-Dallas Taylor

Giving to Make a Life

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

The accuracy of this proclamation will be validated this month during The United Way’s Spring It On online fundraiser.

Spring It On is a 24-hour online fundraiser for nonprofits across Western New York to come together and raise resources and awareness for their respective missions.

We will be celebrating Spring It On this year and our campaign will be geared towards providing equipment for players, family engagement days, sponsoring an athlete for an entire season and more. To visit and support our campaign, go to Spring It On.

Make a life by what we give.

The simplicity and profundity of this statement shouldn’t be overlooked.

Giving can be the greatest display of unselfishness one can show. Giving doesn’t just have to mean a dollar amount. You can give time. You can give love. You can give effort. In this case, you can give the opportunity of a positive future. Making a life.

There is an overall good feeling in giving. Though when you think about what that giving does for someone else, there is an even greater feeling of nobility.

Think of the child that gets to participate in a program that introduces them to the benefits of healthy habits and physical activity. Or the young adult that gets opportunity to explore their career path and prepare for their future. And the coach-mentor that gets to experience the tremendous impact they can make on a child.

That is the kind of life that you can make for someone else. The life you make for yourself is just as significant.

The old adage “when you stand for something, you won’t fall for anything” becomes apparent. You’ve given yourself something else to stand up for. You’ve found a cause that you believe in and want to support. Above all else, you’ve proven to yourself that *you* matter.

Your actions have counted for something and made a difference. With that knowledge, you can walk proudly having done something bigger than yourself. You may not see that impact right away. But if you believe in old Greek Proverb, “a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

-Dallas Taylor

This Parenting Thing is Hard

I generally believe that sports parents need to step back and let the coaches do their jobs and let the kids play. As a leader of a sports-based youth development program and having years of coaching experience under my belt, I have seen many times when parents are just TOO involved.

They are on the sideline directing, yelling, and controlling the game for their child and often the team. They have taken the game away. This has been my thought and my experience as a leader for many years now, until…

I myself have two young children and when I am at their events, it takes every ounce of my willpower sometimes to sit back and watch. Just to let them be coached by someone else, to let them learn on their own, fail on their own, and  to let their friends and teammates join them as they learn and grow- together. I didn’t really appreciate how hard that could be until last weekend when my youngest was in his skiing class.

My son is three and he is skiing with the big kids (meaning five year-olds) because the coaches wanted him in that class. Some might find that gives them bragging rights, but quite honestly, it scares me. I am just learning to be comfortable with this form of winter sport (I am learning to snowboard, but same idea), so to have my youngest in this advanced group just makes me a little nervous. However, I told myself that I have to trust his coaches as I would want someone to trust me or my staff, so he stayed in that class.

On Sunday, during his lesson, I was able to sit back and watch him learn to ski. The group was working on turns and when it was not their turn, they had to wait in line to go up the tow rope. My son is not the most patient and being three, he decided to eat the snow during his wait. Unfortunately, once he was down on the ground, he could not figure out how to get up. He knew I was there and continued to look to me to come and help him. He struggled for what felt like an eternity, but was likely only a minute or two. As I watched him struggle, his little eyes looked at me to help him. It took all my might to wait and hope that the coaches would come over and pull him up. But they didn’t. And just as I was almost to the point of losing my parenting mind, over came a slightly older boy who clearly tried to help my son. He fixed his skis into the right direction and tried to pull him up. Then the coaches came over and finished helping him up. Then off he went for his turn on the tow rope and down the hill.

In that moment, I realized two things. One, while I tell parents often about the importance of allowing your child to struggle, fail, and grow on their own, it is so hard as a parent to sit and watch. Secondly, and I think more importantly, I realized that if I had helped I would have taken away so much from those two boys. First, my son would have learned that he was not capable of struggling and working through the problem himself. Additionally, the little boy who helped would not have been given the chance to lead and the chance to demonstrate what he had learned (which his dad revealed later was a brand new understanding he was really proud to know). Sports have so much ability to create the chance for our children to learn what they are capable of and how to help one another up- something everyone can use now and again. 

As a parent, I empathize with the struggles of making the best choices for our kids on and off the field, but I encourage you to give them more time than you think they need when they are learning new skills. You never know what your child or one of their teammates might teach or learn. In the end, those are the skills that our children will need more and more as they become our leaders in the future.

-Anna-Lesa Calvert

 

 

The Value of Winning in Losing

Athletes are always told to possess that old cliche of a “winner’s mentality”. NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird famously went into the NBA’s Three-Point Contest and said to the competitors, ”So who’s coming in second?” You don’t have to be that confident, but you also don’t want to tell yourself that you’re going to lose. You don’t always have to “play to win”, but I don’t think anyone is playing to lose.

Whether it be in sports, on an exam, at your job or even beating someone to a parking spot. There is an overall good feeling in winning, but what do we learn from it?

It can be difficult to see where we need improvement when we come out with a positive result. Coaches say all of the time, “It was ugly, but a win’s a win.” There isn’t much room for growth in a win.

When I ran Division III Track and Field, I competed in eight races my freshman year. I won them all except for seven of them. Every time, my coach would meet me at the finish line and once I caught my breath we would quickly go over the race. That next week in practice, I would always have something to focus on or something to learn. It might’ve been race strategy, running mechanics and even running through the (correct) finish line.

I lost a lot of races that year. But losing that much made my first win feel so much better. The Chicago Cubs went through years and years of losing until they won the World Series last year. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title last year after much losing. Losing makes any win feel like the greatest victory.

It’s not always so good to “move on” from a loss. It’s supposed to get at you a little bit. The lessons learned in a loss are so valuable to a person. It tests your confidence and it may drive you to do better. It’s serves as a great reflection tool to allow you to take a look at where you are.

Performing poorly on an exam may drive you to study more for the next one (or actually study). Missing out on that “Employee of the Month” could entice you to work harder that month. Losing a game or match may motivate you to train harder and come more prepared. The bar gets set at a higher standard after a loss. You’ll always have something to reach for. It will hurt for a bit, but then you’re on your way to do what you can to gain a better outcome.

You won’t always ace an exam. You won’t win every game. You’ll still lose that parking spot from time to time. But “you’ll get it next time.

-Dallas Taylor