Looking to get your young ones active as the warm weather approaches?

Along with what’s being offered at area schools, there’s no shortage of community-run sports taking place in the months of April, May and June. And sign-ups are taking place now.

Collectively, the Merritt Youth Soccer Association, Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association, Merritt Softball Association and Merritt Otters Swim Club register over 600 youngsters of all ages for their various programs and activities.

By far the largest enrolment annually is with youth soccer, which this year will run for 10 weeks from April 11 through to June 20 inclusively with just one break on the May long weekend.

According to MYSA president Gary Dixon, the organization had in excess of 340 children signed up by the official registration deadline on March 13.

Merritt youth soccer offers boys and girls born in years 2011 through to 1997 the chance to learn and play ‘the beautiful game’ in a positive, structured and fun environment.

The wee ones (Timbits, 2010-11 and K/1, 2008-9) will be conducting their activities on week nights at Voght Park this year, while age groups from 1999 to 2007 will practice during the week but play their games as in the past on Saturdays at the former Coquihalla Middle School fields.

There’s been a change in the MYSA offering for youth in the oldest age group (1997-8). Because of a frequent conflict with weekend work commitments, its activities have been moved from Saturdays to during the week, with drop-in sessions to be held on a weeknight still to be determined.

While the enrolment period has officially closed for Merritt youth soccer, Dixon did say that new registrations are still being accepted on a limited basis — if there is space available in a division and on a team. All late registration inquiries should be directed to [email protected].

Those already registered with MYSA are reminded of two important courses coming up very soon.

This Sunday (March 29), at 9 a.m. at the Civic Centre, there will be a referees clinic for anyone interested in officiating small-side soccer. For more information on becoming a soccer official, contact Andrew U’ren at 378-9085.

On April 10, starting at 5 p.m. at CMS, there will be a coaching clinic for all MYSA coaches. For more on this certification program, contact Kelly Donaldson at 315-2405.

Dixon is extremely excited about the opening weekend of this year’s Merritt youth soccer season on April 11.

“It’s going to be like a jamboree,” he said. “We’re going to have several personnel from BC Soccer on hand running various stations. It should be a lot of fun.”

For more information on the MYSA, you can go to the website: www.merrittyouthsoccer.com.

Also set to start their season on the same weekend are teams representing the Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association. The organization has enjoyed considerable success since starting up a dozen years ago, with several of its Thunder teams winning zone titles and attending provincial championships.

This year, the NVMLA will have teams for children from ages five (2010) to 16 (1999). In addition to regular weekly practices, the teams play games both home and away as members of the Thompson-Okanagan minor lacrosse association.

The local lacrosse season runs from early April through to the end of June with possible playoffs to follow. Most games are on a Saturday or a Sunday, although an occasional weeknight game in Kamloops for the older teams does get scheduled.

Registrations for minor lacrosse are currently being accepted, and are being carried out by the Leisure Services Department at the Civic Centre during regular business hours.

For more information on the NVMLA, you can contact association president Rose Grant at 315-3669 or go to the website: www.nicolavalleylacrosse.com.

Merritt minor softball is hoping to get its season underway April 21. There have been two sign-up sessions so far, with another two scheduled for March 28 and April 12 at the Central Park shelter beside the ball fields from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

Outgoing MSA president Missy Geier said her organization hopes to once again have teams for children four years of age and up.

“Youngsters four to 10 are all part of the Learn to Play program,” Geier said. “We divide them up into as many teams and divisions as possible based on registrations. We’re also hoping to have U12 boys and girls teams and a U14 girls squad.”

The younger Learn to Play teams play their games locally, while the older sides participate in a league that encompasses the North Thompson region.

Geier said that interest in softball is resurging both locally and around the Interior with Kamloops and area hoping to field multiple teams this year and new associations forming in Princeton and Hope.

The Merritt Softball Association will be holding an important AGM at Central Park on April 26 at 7 p.m. In the meantime, anyone wishing for more information on the local minor softball scene can contact Geier at 378-9635.

Set to start up May 1 and run through until mid-August is the Merritt Otters Swim Club. The highly-successful competitive Otters program has developed a host of talented, young swimmers over the years as a member of the B.C. Summer Swim Association.

The Otters accept registrations from children five years of age and up provided that they can already swim the width of the Nicola Valley Aquatic Centre pool (Red Cross Level 2).

There will be a registration session for potential new swimmers on April 20 from 5 to 6 p.m. in the foyer at the aquatic centre.

Head coach for the Otters this coming season will be Central Elementary School principal Leroy Slanzi, who has been overseeing the swim club’s winter maintenance program for the last two years.

Competitive Otters swimmers are assigned to one of three training groups based on their age, ability and commitment level. Dependent upon their group, swimmers will practice from four to seven times weekly. On many weekends, they will have the opportunity to compete in a host of BCSSA meets held throughout the Thompson-Okanagan area as well as regional and possibly provincial championships.

For more information on Merritt Otters offerings, you can go to their website: www.merrittotters.com or contact club president Josée Warren at 315-5086 or registrar Jennifer Lisle at 378-9687.