Tysons, VA

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

If you’ve ever read any of my bio, you know that I was a softball player in college at the University of Rochester in New York.

I was an All-American, both academically and athletically. My husband was a soccer coach in Loudoun County for Potomac Falls High School and I coached Varsity Softball at Yorktown High School in Arlington for a few years around 2007. My boys are both heavily involved in baseball and basketball sports around Vienna. To say we’re a sports family is mildly understated.

Having started my kids playing in the i9 program has been so much FUN. Something I think gets lost these days in kids sports. I’m highlighting the program, which is a franchise, but is locally owned by a Vienna/Oakton family for the entire Fairfax County franchise.

They offer programs that start as young as 3 years old for both girls and boys and goes up to 13 in flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball and zip lacrosse.

The programs for the little kids is usually once a week for an hour: a 30 minute practice followed by a 30 minute game. They have a weekly sportsmanship value that’s discussed in detail. Things like positivity, teamwork, humility and listening. For the younger kids, one kid from each team gets a medal per work for demonstrating that value (every kid gets a medal by the end of the season).

Here’s the reason I love the program so much: the guys who run it every week are passionate. They all have day jobs, they do this because they LOVE it. They love working with the kids to teach them the sport and they’re so enthusiastic you can’t help but love the experience.

Special shout out to Mervin who runs a lot of the Vienna location sports — we’ve had him for soccer, baseball and basketball now and he’s hilarious. He’s so good with the kids, good about getting parents involved in the right way, and encouraging a good time. For their first and last games, they usually do fun events like letting the kids run through a banner with music playing, or run down a line of outstretched parent hands for a high-five while they announce their names.

If you have kids who may be the ones who hide behind your legs at first (I had one too), these guys go out of their way to get those kids into it. No pressure of course, but little things like giving them a jersey and asking them to hold a ball, because you know if they’re holding one they’ll start dribbling it. Then try again next week.

In a world where there’s so much pressure on kids so early, i9 brings back what youth sports should be: FUN.

Thank you Todd Peterson for running such a wonderful organization!

For more information on the program, visit i9Sports.com.

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