February 3, 2012
Ally Stokes started United Cricket Club's Junior program in 2011, with just five boys, two of which were her own! Her sons came to the game after a summer of front garden cricket in Scotland, and after returning to Texas, found that the only youth program in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area was for ages 16 and over. Ally did some investigating and found a club near her home which was willing to give up their ground on Saturdays. What began as informal coaching with a few friends has now grown into a club of 15 families (at the end of last season).
"We are very much learning as we go, and have amazing support from our parent club, United Cricket Club, who, in addition to blocking out the ground for our use every Saturday morning throughout the year, have financially supported one of our coaches to attend the ICC level 1 training held by USYCA in Maryland last fall," Stokes said.
This year, Ally is expecting to see major strides for the program.
"2012 will be a big year of development for United CC Juniors," Stokes said. "We now have four ICC level 1 trained coaches, and a weekly program that can accommodate up to 50 boys and girls of varying skill levels. We are working on, in close connection with USYCA, a schools outreach program and are looking forward to introducing cricket to many children from non-cricketing national backgrounds.
"This summer we will be hosting our first summer camp taught by a West Indies Cricket Board High Performance coach; in which we'll have three sessions daily, open to youth during the day and adults in the evening. All in all a busy and challenging year ahead, but one that is sure to be full of cricket!"
Ally also appreciates the critical role played by USYCA in growing cricket in the United States.
"Despite being the second most popular sport in the world, cricket has been too long underrepresented in the US, and I am excited about the development that we are seeing in our own region and across the nation, and love seeing young people take up a sport that is not only athletic in its demands, but mentally challenging and character building as well," said Stokes. "USYCA are a huge asset to those of us on the front lines of youth cricket development and United CC Juniors are proud to be partners with USYCA in this endeavor."
"USYCA has been very impressed with what Ally and the United Juniors team have accomplished in its first year," President Jamie Harrison said. "This program is an excellent example of the grassroots cricket development just taking off in America, and shows the great things that can be done, even with limited resources, by a committed group of people.
"We expect to see great things from the United Juniors, and are excited to have them on the USYCA team."