Before they were competing for championships at the NCAA level, many of the University of North Carolina’s student-athletes, coaches and staff members began their careers in youth sports, learning sportsmanship, teamwork and leadership skills that will ultimately make them champions inside and outside of athletic competition.
That’s why the Department of Athletics is proud to become the first NCAA institution to partner with the National Fitness Foundation (NFF) to support and expand youth sport and athletics participation across the United States.
With support from the University, UNC Health and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and members of the NFF will announce the partnership during a virtual event on Wednesday, November 18, then sign the American Youth Sports Pledge.
The event, which will be streamed on GoHeels.com and Facebook Live, will begin at 2 p.m. Each of Carolina’s 22 head coaches also have signed the pledge in recognition of a “National Signing Day” for youth sports.
“As our nation’s oldest public University with one of the most extensive athletic programs in the country, Carolina is proud to become the first NCAA program to support the National Fitness Foundation in this endeavor,” said Guskiewicz. “Carolina reflects our state and we are deeply invested in the health and well-being of our children. I have seen the impact of sports in my own life, and I know that this partnership will have an impact on young people from our state and across our nation.”
Said Cunningham: “We are thrilled to become the first university to support the NFF by signing this pledge, and we hope other NCAA institutions will join us. The more we can encourage young people to play sports and to stay active, the better the opportunity for them learn, to build social fundamentals, to stay healthy, and to stay in school. There is a life-long benefit to exercise, and learning sportsmanship and teamwork – and that’s very important to our department, our University, our state and our country.”
The National Youth Sports Strategy is the first comprehensive, national effort developed for the purpose of improving health outcomes by expanding youth sport participation in America. Other organizations that have pledged their support for expanding youth sports participation in America include the AAU, NBC Sports, USA Football, Pop Warner Little Scholars, the Los Angeles Chargers, the National Council of Youth Sports and the NHL.
“I’m grateful for the leadership of the UNC-Chapel Hill administration and Athletics Department. They clearly understand how valuable youth sports are in local communities,” said Clay Walker, Executive Director of the National Fitness Foundation. “Because universities play such an important role in addressing societal issues, and are an essential part of the built environment, it’s critically important to have NCAA member institutions fully supporting the NYSS public health policy. There’s no better university to launch this program with than Carolina.”
Throughout the virtual event, Carolina coaches, staff – and fans – are encouraged to share photos of their participation in youth sports with the hashtag, #UNC4YouthSports.
For more information, and to donate to the National Youth Sports Strategy campaign, visit uncsigningday.com.