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East County Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010 7 years ago

Sports ministry focuses on faith

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — Woodland, The Community Church Recreation Director Laura Torrisi strongly believes that, no matter what the outcome, every child who takes the field or the court is a winner.

Over time, that belief has become synonymous with Woodland’s Upward Sports program. The Upward Sports program is a sports league designed to bring sports and the Christian faith together.

The program, which formed in 1986 and has since spread worldwide with more than 100,000 participants, focuses on good sportsmanship and faith exploration rather than championships and trophies.

“It’s a chance for them to grow in their spiritual journey and realize that it’s OK for God to be a part of their sports life,” Torrisi said. “Our goal is to let them play, learn about Christ, teamwork and sportsmanship and have fun while they’re doing it.”

Woodland’s Upward Sports program comprises co-ed soccer, basketball, cheerleading and flag football. After offering flag football in the past, Torrisi is hoping to reintroduce the sport to the community in the fall.

The flag football program, open to boys and girls from age 5 through the fifth grade, will begin Sept. 13 and run through Nov. 6. Players will participate in several practices before competing in six games. All games will be held on Saturday mornings.

“I’m really excited, and hopefully we’ll be able to start the program up again,” Torrisi said. “It’s fun to watch the kids compete. You’ve got people cheering on the sidelines and the coaches are cheering. When game time comes, you can see the passion.”

Registration for the flag football program will begin July 28. Those interested in participating can pick up a flyer at Woodland, 9607 S.R. 70 E., or visit Registration, which includes a full uniform, flag, devotional materials and an end-of-the-year award, is $70 prior to Aug. 23. Late registration is $80.

Additionally, Woodland will host two evaluation days — 5-7 p.m., Aug. 26, and 9-11 a.m., Aug. 28 — during which players will be evaluated on their skills and placed onto teams.

Following the flag football season, Woodland will host an end-of-the-year celebration for all of the players as it does for all of its Upward Sports programs.

For more information on Woodland’s Upward Sports Program contact Laura Torrisi at [email protected] or visit and click on "Recreation" under the Ministries tab.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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