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Nurturing the Good Stuff . . . Sportsmanship

My home has ALL the sports equipment - baseball mitts, footballs, golf clubs, cones and cleats and helmets and balls and and and . . . 

Jake, the oldest at five, is our guinea pig. As his parents, we specifically planned “not to overwhelm him with too much.” And then before you know it, we have him in a soccer camp that leads into a basketball camp and then t-ball and then a longer soccer camp and then fall t-ball and then a bigger basketball camp and then flag football. 

My husband, Travis, is excited to see his boys experience the same love he felt/feels around sports. I wasn’t an athlete, but I appreciate that sports can build character, strengthen bonds and friendships, help people set goals and persevere through physical and mental obstacles and require that they overcome disappointment and failure with confidence and, hopefully, grace. 

Character. . . friendship . . . perseverance . . . failure . . . grace. Add that all up, and the goal is sportsmanship. Right?

As well-intentioned (or hopeful) as we parents may be, simply exposing children to sports doesn’t automatically equate to those children exhibiting good sportsmanship. There are more than ample examples of young athletes exhibiting some seriously poor sportsmanship.

Say 'Hello' to . . . 

Local author, Bob West was officiating a high school wrestling match when he was head-butted and knocked unconscious. He wrote Rage on the Field  where he describes the “it takes a village” adage and how everyone in this village failed in exhibiting responsibility - from the individual athlete, to the school, to the coaches, to professional athletes, to the judicial system, to the young athlete's own parents in teaching this child sportsmanship through accountability. 

Bob also gives steps to reducing unsportsmanlike behaviors including at home, via role models, and with accountability. 

Say another 'Hello' to . . . 

ITZ Sports Performance in Spokane Valley was founded on doing JUST that - being a part of the village that invests in, models, and teaches good sportsmanship. 

Owner, Tom Emory, partnered with Camden Homes because they all wanted to create a space for children to grow. Using Tom's connections and expertise in basketball was a win-win.  

“We have built a really cool facility with technology, which is a big draw - but the bigger draw is the instructors, Mike Evans, Tony Skinner all have the same values . . . We never say [I] can't. It’s always ‘it's a challenge’ . . . what you put into something is what you will get out of it . . . relationships, school, the community - and basketball is just the tool that we use to teach that,” Tom said. 

ITZ Mission 

To positively impact the lives of every student-athlete in our community by teaching critical core values of life through the lens of athletics.

ITZ Vision 

To provide every student-athlete the highest level of personal development by utilizing the pursuit of excellence, the commitment to hard work, and prioritizing integrity. ITZ Sports Performance will provide an innovative and technology driven approach to enhance the skill set of every student-athlete that commits to the journey and trusts the results of hard work. We will always emphasize the importance of academics before athletics. There are no shortcuts, or handouts; there is only hard work, and the results that it produces.

Bringing the mission to Life . . . 

Tom provides clear, specific, and multiple examples of how the whole staff lives this mission. 

“My first thought was WOW, this is amazing we’re going to teach leadership, responsibility, and how sports play a role in the home and school . . . For example, before we have fun, we have to clean our room. Let’s keep the gym organized. Let's keep it clean. Before you have fun, take care of your responsibilities. Including out in society in general . . . Always look out for your neighbor and see if they need help. Basketball is a team sport. What is your role on the team, just like what is your role in society? How can I make the culture better? 

“Basketball is just a tool that I use to teach - It is not a me sport . . . you’re in it with other people. What you do affects other people, and as you get older and you play at a higher level, what you do off the court and out of season matters. . . These are all things we talk about in our classes and camps”, Tom said. 


The difference it makes . . . 

In August, my Jake participated in the ITZ FUNdamentals camp. On day one, Tom pulled Travis and I aside to let us know that Jake had mentioned that his knee hurt. Tom explained how Jake told him what it felt like, what they did to make sure he didn’t get injured further, and offered us suggestions on what to look for over the next few days. 

Such personalized attention from a “head honcho” in a sea of kids was impressive. I wanted to learn more about this group. Tom was gracious and excited to chat about how ITZ wants to give back to the community. And nearly three weeks later, he immediately asked how Jake’s knee was feeling.

We have the village ready to nurture good sportsmanship in our children. Thanks to the folks like ITZ and Bob for reminding us. 

Bob will be signing copies of his book, at Barnes & Noble in Spokane Valley on December 9th. Until then, get your copy directly from Bob’s website or the Liberty Lake Library

ITZ hosts camps, clinics, 3v3 leagues, and programs all year long for all ages and all skill levels. Stop by and check them out!


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