Looking Up Sports Ministry teaches kids to play sports with a higher purpose

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, May 16, 2017

By David Freeze

For the Salisbury Post

“I’ll be the one in the pink Maw-Maw shirt,” said Linda Little, coordinator for Looking Up Sports Ministry of First Baptist Church of Gold Hill.

Little likes to have the players, parents and coaches call her by the name on the shirt.

“I have a passion for children, especially those in the years where they learn accountability,” Little said. “We don’t stress the small stuff, and we want the kids to make friends and enjoy learning to play sports.”

Little’s daughter, Valerie King of Roanoke Rapids, told her mom about the program. Tony Parsons, pastor at First Baptist, is active as a T-ball coach.

Now in its second year, Looking Up Sports is a youth league different from most others. All practices and games are on Saturday mornings at Miner’s Field in Gold Hill. The kids warm up and practice game skills for 30 minutes, then focus on a 15-minute devotional with an open Bible before playing their game.

Parents are cautioned to voice only positive support during the games that have so far included soccer and T-ball. About 30 children from Spencer to Albemarle are participating. Age groups of 3-6 and 7-13 include both boys and girls. The league is financed by First Baptist Church, entry fees, and steady drink and hot dog sales.

Jeff Norton, pastor of Oakdale Baptist Church in Spencer, signed up his kids after seeing the program online. Sons Vincent, Nicholas and Martin are playing in the soccer program. Norton expected to be an assistant coach but was bumped up to head coach and now leads most of the devotionals.

“We are really enjoying every Saturday,” Norton said. “Our goals are to teach the kids to play the sport for God’s glory, realize that it is a privilege to play and that we honor him in all that we do. I had some experience with soccer, so here I am with the opportunity to interject the word into the kids’ lives.”

Amanda Barbee, Little’s stepdaughter, said, “I just got volunteered every Saturday to do photos and I keep up the Facebook page for the league. I hope to see the league grow because I enjoy sports. Not a lot of kids are very active today. The purpose of the league is not just about sports but also about respect. Lots of kids see religion as being very strict, but here they will find it can be fun too.”

As a T-ball coach, Richfield resident Aaron Evans said, “I like that we can have this league just on weekends here in the Gold Hill community. We just wanted to have fun and no pressure. I hunt and fish and definitely am not a professional at this.”

David Trexler, father of Alyssa and Riley, enjoys coaching soccer.

“My dad, Wayne Trexler, was a longtime youth sports coach, and he always told me how rewarding coaching can be. I have found his words to be true,” Trexler said.

Involved through his fiancee’s kids, Hunter Thompson of the High Rock area also has a 4-year-old named Jackson playing.

“Just seeing the kids wanting to do this, being around people so that they can build relationships, the kids are learning positive lessons,” Thompson said.

An awards celebration is planned at 5 p.m. May 27. Kids will receive trophies and coaches will be recognized.

Little credits her husband, Tim, and Sam Biggers for helping her run the league.

Little hopes to see the league continue to grow and wants to get other churches involved.

“Miner’s Field is part of Gold Hill Park, and we thank Gold Hill and Vivian Hopkins for letting us use it,” Little said. “Our next season will start at the end of August or the first of September, and we plan to add coach-pitch. For 2018, flag football, cheerleading and possibly volleyball will be added. Some kids just need to try different sports before they find one that they really like.”

The entry for each child is $40, and the fee drops to $35 for multiple entries in the same family.

“All eight of my grandchildren either play here or at one of the other Looking Up Sports cities,” Little said. “We are hoping to gain sponsors along the way. But for now, this is a real paycheck for the heart.”

Contact Little at 704-223-0542 or go to www.facebook.comlookingupsportsgoldhill for more information.