Facility offers indoor soccer, youth camps
Soccer players from the Pacific Northwest know that it’s quite difficult to enjoy their sport outdoors year-round.
That’s where Arena Sports comes in.
Founded in 1995, Arena Sports is a national leader in indoor sports facilities, whose main goal is to enhance the quality of life in local communities by providing fun and safe sports for people of all ages.
The Redmond location, found just off of Willows Road, is the most recent of the three Seattle-area Arena Sports locations, having opened in 2000. Specializing in indoor soccer, the facility is well-known for its “Lil’ Kickers” children’s soccer camps which teaches youngsters ages 18 months to nine years the developmental skills they need to be successful, on and off the field.
“The reason why we start kids so young is that we’re not just teaching the soccer, we’re teaching them the game of life,” said Spring Faussett, Arena Sports’ marketing director. “We progress as the child progresses … at 18 months we’re not teaching them how to score a goal. It’s motor skills, balance, teamwork, working with other people, learning to follow instructions—we don’t go any further than the child is ready to go, it’s non-competitive.”
In addition to Lil’ Kickers, Arena Sports offers both full-day and half-day sports camps where children can burn off their extra energy by playing games like field hockey, flag football, basketball, dodgeball, capture the flag, or kickball.
“Just the kids, it’s fun to play games with them and everything,” said camp coach Maddy Federspeil on what she liked most about her job. “We play games on the field: volleyball, hockey, today we had a dodgeball game. It’s really important for kids to run around and get exercise.”
More than 24,000 Redmond-area youth have been enrolled in the Lil’ Kickers program in the past eight years.
Arena Sports’ annual membership fee is just $42, and being a member is required to participate in classes, leagues or camps. Members also receive discounts on parties, rentals, tournaments, and when they drop in to use the facility.
PLENTY OF FLEXIBILITY
Arena Sports’ greatest asset is the flexibility of its classes. Unlike most camps, where a flat rate is charged for a certain number of sessions, each class is run on a drop-in basis, so families are not inconvenienced by needing to bring their children in at a certain time every day.
“We’re very flexible. You can sign up for a day, an afternoon, a morning, or all summer,” said Don Crowe, CEO of Arena Sports. “It’s safe so the kids are protected and they’re not going to wander off, and we have professional coaches that are here year-round, not just for the summer.”
As a more engaging alternative to day care, Arena Sports’ day camps run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Crowe also mentioned that Arena Sports employs professionals with a child-development background, which is rarely found at other recreational facilities.
Another big hit with families is the “Fun Zone,” a giant indoor inflatable playground that will, quite literally, have kids bouncing off the walls. Drop-in rates are $5 a child for members and $7 for non-members.
Arena Sports doesn’t just cater to children, though. Since the Redmond location opened in October 2000, more than 54,000 adults have played soccer in the facility’s soccer leagues, and other organizations frequently rent field space to hold events like lacrosse matches or baseball training.
“For adults we have leagues, classes and tournaments,” Crowe said. “We run adult programs year-round seven nights a week, women’s clinics weekday mornings and for beginners, Saturday night co-ed adult leagues where we don’t keep score.”
ALIVE AND KICKING
Faussett, who has played competitive soccer for the past 30 years, understands the importance of introducing children to an active lifestyle at a young age.
“Soccer tends to be a lifelong sport, whereas some of the other sports you tend to drift off after high school if you don’t go to play college” Faussett noted. “What we’re doing here is starting kids on a healthy lifestyle. We’re hoping to teach them what it means to be active.”
She believes that soccer fans that attend Major League Soccer games tend to be more fit than the average Seahawks or Mariners fan.
“You see a big difference in the community of soccer players because they’re still playing.”
One of those life-long soccer players is Beth Benincasa, who has been playing in adult soccer leagues at the Redmond Arena Sports location since it opened in 2000, and in Seattle before then. She has two young daughters, Rachel, 5, and Claire, 2, who are both enrolled in the Lil’ Kickers camps.
“They love it… the best part is that they get to play with other kids and run around. All the coaches are super nice and it’s a really relaxed place for them to play without strict rules,” Benincasa said. “Plus, I play here and I like the facility and management, so if I’m going to pay somewhere, I’m going to pay to play here.”