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Local Nonprofit Providing Digital Sports Practices for Children at Home

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URBANDALE, Iowa — Spring is the biggest season for Opportunity on Deck, a metro nonprofit providing free athletic opportunities to central Iowa children. That’s because soccer is their most popular sport, but instead of practices starting this past weekend like scheduled they found themselves, like most Iowans, at home due to the coronavirus.

“The weather seems to be cooperating but everything else in the world seems to be a little bit chaotic. So instead of being around hundreds of kids every day of the week at all of these different locations, getting out in the community and getting outside, we’re doing some indoor digital soccer practices,” Executive Director Dylan DeClerck said. 

Once Opportunity on Deck knew they couldn’t hold practices for the weeks to come, they wanted to find a solution for their athletes to stay active, healthy, and involved while they were not in school. These virtual practices are doing the trick.

While soccer is their main focus usually this time of year, they are holding practices for other sports too like basketball, dance, baseball, even bowling on their Facebook page. Trying to teach via live stream is hard enough, but DeClerck said they have even more obstacles trying to ensure practices are accessible to all their athletes who maybe don’t have all the right equipment or a large space.

“We have to adapt our practices for the fact that some kids may be on a third floor apartment or in a small bedroom. They also may not be able to get outside, so we’re trying to provide indoor activities,” DeClerck said. “If we are doing something with basketball, we’re doing things where you don’t necessarily have to bounce it as much because that might annoy the neighbors below you if you are in an apartment. We’re trying to be as adaptive as possible so kids can do it with any amount of space.”

Their practices are geared for 1st through 8th-grade students. They are held at noon every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This Wednesday, April 1st they have a practice on Ultimate Frisbee.

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