Special League

ESTABLISH IT, and they will come.

Such is definitely the case with a unique sports league taking shape in Martins Ferry.

The Upward Sports league is a new, and obviously well received, approach to athletic participation. The Martins Ferry Christian Church-sponsored league is not only open to physically challenged youths but embraces them. Boys and girls with health issues are the driving force of this basketball loop, including cheerleaders.

Brian Hastings is the organizer. He was hoping for 100 participants at most for the inaugural campaign. The response was a slam dunk as nearly twice that number have registered.

The concept of the league is heartwarming, as is the overwhelming response it has generated. Athletics are a great training ground for life lessons.

Unfortunately, the window is often times closed on many individuals not capable of competing on more organized school levels. The Upward Sports league opens that window, creating opportunities for countless youths not previously available.

The league features 16 co-ed teams and eight cheering squads, ranging in ages from kindergarten to sixth. An undertaking of such magnitude cannot be implemented smoothly with the proper manpower to oversee it.

No such problem as Upward Sports is well stocked with quality coaches as 60 church-approved volunteers are prepared to give their time, knowledge and caring to ensure success.

The Martins Ferry Christian Church and Hastings have teamed up to offer challenged youths a positive outlet for self development. Upward Sports leagues usually see a large jump in participation in year two. Hastings estimates that more than 300 youths may take part next year.

We commend league organizers and volunteers for making a positive difference in the lives our youth, and doing so in enjoyable fashion.