Young kids mix sports and fun with new S.A. company
By Ana Clarissa Rodriguez
Updated 11:41 a.m., Thursday, July 21, 2011
The Duke family spreads its love of sports with local children through imagination and fun, non-competitive classes at Alamo TotSports.
“This whole thing started because my husband and I wanted something for our son (Noah Duke, 3) to get involved in and when we looked around we realized most sport activities don't start until age 6,” said Andrea Duke, owner and executive director of Alamo TotSports.
“Then we found a program up in Austin called SoccerTots and we thought it was the greatest thing.”
Duke and husband Matt purchased the SoccerTots franchise for the San Antonio area last August and renamed the children's non-competitive athletic program Alamo TotSports.
“We did it for our son,” she added. “We wanted to teach Noah the skills and fundamentals of sports at a young age in a non-competitive environment.”
The Dukes expanded Alamo TotsSports from solely SoccerTots to a multi-sport children's program after purchasing Lil' Sluggers, a children's baseball program available for ages 2 to 5, and HoopsterTots, a basketball skill-developmental program available for children ages 26 months to 6 years.
“It's nice because the programs are available for children as young as 18 months, and as parents we really liked this idea,” explained Duke.
“Another thing that makes us different is that we don't keep score here. It's not about winning or losing. It's about understanding the sport, loving the sport and being fit while having fun.”
Duke said the SoccerTots program began with about 40 children at two locations. With the addition of Lil' Sluggers and HoopsterTots, almost 200 children are now enrolled at six locations across the San Antonio area. A seventh location is under consideration.
“We hope to keep moving,” said Duke. “We've sparked interest on base at Lackland, and our next goal is to move south and launch several lower-costing programs for the parents and children on the South Side of San Antonio.”
The Dukes own the franchise rights for Alamo TotSports in Boerne and New Braunfels, and said they are planning to one day open up new children's programs and locations in those areas.
“Mondays at Spectrum Rogers Ranch we do a SoccerTots program for kids with autism and other disabilities,” said Duke. “It's so rewarding to watch and we plan to develop the same program for baseball and eventually basketball.”
The Dukes established the first adaptive SoccerTots program for kinetic children in San Antonio earlier this year.
“I think sports should be for everybody and having a disability shouldn't take that away from you,” said Duke.
Duke and Nikki Viegas, assistant director and full-time instructor for Alamo TotSports, are thrilled to say they personally know almost every child in the programs and have wonderful relationships with their parents.
“August is our one-year anniversary, and we have about 20 parents who have been with us since the beginning,” said Duke. “One good thing the parents tell us is that when their kids leave here they want to keep playing.”
“We even have parents who get together once a week outside of class and practice,” she added.
“The SoccerTot program is great,” said Stacy Gage, mother of SoccerTots participant Brady Gage. “We love SoccerTots and Brady absolutely adores coming here. We started when he was about 18 months old.”
“I like to play all the games and jump through the hoops,” said Brady Gage, 2.
“He's improved so mch since day 1,” Duke said of Brady. “I remember when he first started he wouldn't let go of Stacy's hand and now he's out there running around on his own.”
“These classes teach Brady structure and how to listen and follow directions. It teaches him a little independence too,” added Blake Gage, Brady's father.
“Brady looks forward to Fridays because he knows Friday is SoccerTots day,” said Stacy Gage. “We plan to keep him in SoccerTots for a while and I think we are going to try Lil' Sluggers next.”
“Alamo TotsSports is designed to help kids stay active and teach motor-skills, balance and coordination through imagination and, of course, fun,” said Duke.
“All three of our sports programs have the same fun, non-competitive philosophy and we hope more people catch-on and sign-up with us soon.”
For more information, call 399-4861 or visit www.alamototsports.com.