Ed Green’s “Great Beginnings” Returns For Area Youth And Their Family Members

"Great Beginnings" instructor Ed Green closes out every clinic with an inspirational talk to the parents and their kids. (Bill Turner photos).
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.
It all starts with a great beginning.
Former Roanoke College basketball coach and athletic director Ed Green returns his unique sports camp, appropriately named “Great Beginnings,” to the area later this month after a pause in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Inspired by playing catch with his father as a young boy, Green started the program, now in its 14th year, as a way to introduce his own grandchildren to the fundamentals of playing a sport, proper techniques involved and sportsmanship required to successfully compete at any level. The program is cordinated with the Salem Parks and Recreation’s Community Activities Division.
Geared up for boys and girls ages 3-7, the goal of the program is to help prepare young children for the challenges of organized sports in a non-threatening atmosphere without the worry of competition. It helps kids avoid frustration, embarassment and fear, that studies have shown leads to over 70% of kids to drop out of organized sports altogether by age 13.
Unlike most sports camps where only the child attends, “Great Beginnings” requires a parent, guardian or other significant family member to attend and be present alongside the child. Each child along with his or her parent or family member work together to learn the basic motor skills needed to successfully move on to more organized sports in years to come. As the 5-week program, held in one-hour segments on five successive Sundays, progresses and children show improvement, the skill stations are altered so that each child remains challenged. Parents spend quality time with their child while learning how to properly teach and support them in sports. The program is designed to teach and develop motor skills, cognitive abilities and social interaction.
“This will be a fun time for all who attend,” Green noted earlier this month in an interview for this article. “These young kids look around and see other kids working with their parents or family member and they get excited and motivated to follow suit. At the same time it challenges parents to think about their child’s development in sports and how to improve in the proper ways to encourage them in order to look forward to their kid’s future. I teach parents first, and then the parents can teach their kids. Since the inception of “Great Beginnings” I’ve seen a large number of young participants go on to have tremendous success in high school and college sports. It’s been very rewarding.”
The upcoming camp, scheduled to begin its five-week run on September 19th on the field at West Salem Elementary School, will feature both football and soccer camps in separate one-hour sessions. Football runs from 1:30-2:30 PM, with soccer set for 2:45-3:45. “Great Beginnings” also has a basketball camp that begins in January and a t-ball- youth softball camp that takes place in the spring. The four annual camps typically bring out a total of 150-200 young athletes looking for that important pathway to improve and feel comfortable playing a sport.
Parent Lauren Schantz takes a hand-on approach to hitting technique with her son Everett Chen during a t-ball camp in 2019. The fall football-soccer “Great Beginnings” camps begin September 19. (Bill Turner 2019 file photo).

“The upcoming football camp has no pushing, blocking or tackling,” Green pointed out. “We’re looking to teach skills like passing, catching, footwork, agilities and techniques so every young athlete gets off to a great start. The same goes for the soccer session where college All-American Michael Benne will join me as an instructor.”

“The program gets the kids ready for team-play, builds self-confidence and self-esteem, plus learning to stay positive,” Green added. “It gets the parents on board. This program is often the first time, other than parents, where someone else gives instruction and the first experience the child has with another person or coach barking out skills.”
The program is emphatically all-on-board and hands-on for everyone. It’s not a venue where kids are dropped off at the door. Green ends every session with a talk about ethical and moral values to both the kids and parents.
“You learn two ways; by the books you read and the people you meet,” Green notes. “If you get on a bicycle and just sit there, you fall off. You have to have coordination. That requires being able to go down the sidewalk in a balanced manner. In the same way, you have to have a balanced life, and that includes the parents, too. Socially….nutritionally…be yourself and believe in yourself; and be ready to go somewhere.”
Parents and their kids interviewed by The Star during a 2019 T-ball / softball session raved about how impressed they were about participating, and the new approaches they learned from the program to help kids advance. Long-time advocate of youth sports, Dave Ross, has been part of the program while participating with his grandson.
“This is a very good program and very thorough program,” Ross points out. “You know it’s going to be first-class when you have Ed Green involved.”
To join in the fun for the upcoming clinic, contact Ed Green at 540-387-9516. For young kids and their parents, it’s never too late for a “Great Beginning.”
Bill Turner