By: Cody Elliot, Staff Writer
Something about the city of Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley is special.
For Ralph Sampson III, the 6-foot-11 former University of Minnesota standout has always had a tie to the area, in large part because of his father, former Harrisonburg High, University of Virginia and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, Ralph Sampson’s career.
And after seeing the inspiration his father has provided to so many youth throughout his playing days and even still today, the younger Sampson said his desire is to have a similar impact.
“I am invested in the youth of The Valley and giving back by sharing lessons that sports have shared with me,” Sampson III said. “I am passionate about sports in the Shenandoah Valley and want to share that passion by teaching, coaching and developing programs that create opportunities for kids to elevate their level of play. I believe a facility like Horizons Edge will not only develop kids, but allow the community to come together to support the continued growth.”
At Horizons Edge, the opportunities for local youth are endless with a number of various programs designed for different needs and desire throughout the course of the year.
Sampson, who is the sports program manager at the facility, said there are a number of sports programs that Horizons Edge offers that will help give area youth athletes not only an opportunity to grow and improve their game, but also simply to find some enjoyment in it.
“The focus of the youth sports programs is to create a place for skills to be developed,
games to be played and fun to be had,” said Sampson, who is originally from Sacramento, Cali. “Most of the greatest players of any sport had to start playing and being developed in their youth. Horizons Edge provides that space and organization for players to enjoy their sport while learning the life lessons that athletics have to teach in a family-focused environment.”
Youth Basketball League
The youth basketball league at Horizons Edge provides a “total basketball experience,” according to Sampson, and is a good opportunity for kids to be introduced to competitive play.
In this league, players work on individual fundamentals, team strategy, go through practices with their teammates and improve their overall game while also being guaranteed eight games.
The top two teams will compete in a postseason tournament at the end of the season as well.
Sampson said this is a league that is designed for players aiming to make a school team.
Youth Volleyball Clinics
For youth volleyball players focused on improving the essential skills of passing, setting, spiking and serving, the youth volleyball clinics at Horizons Edge are the perfect opportunity to do so.
The clinics provide a positive, uplifting environment with a wide range of players and skill level.
Ultimately, the lessons are designed to help young players fine-tune their fundamentals.
The Shenandoah Valley is filled with basketball talent and the Horizons Edge Basketball Skill Academy offers a small-group training academy for those players to reach their full potential.
The academy provides a unique opportunity for athletes to develop their game in all aspects and includes, but is not limited to, fundamental and technical skill development, technique breakdown, strength and conditioning training and much more to become a well-rounded player.
The Horizons Edge Basketball Club Mini Ballers program helps young players build a strong foundation of fundamentals while working in a safe and professional environment.
The program meets once per week and focuses on fundamentals and simply having fun.
Ultimately, the objective of the program is to help players be exposed to the fundamentals and develop their own skills while learning how to play the game and finding a joy for the sport.
The staff at Horizons Edge also offers private lessons for those interested in one-on-one work.
Those lessons are grounded in teaching the fundamentals with a step-by-step approach.
Working closely with individual athletes, the focus is helping players fine-tune their abilities.
Horizons Edge Basketball Club
As mentioned before, the Horizons Edge Basketball Club (HEBC) is a travel basketball program that is built for committed player that are looking for both individual development and a competitive team that will play against some of the best competition around the state.
This program proves a platform for player to learn what it takes to get to the next level.
There are a number of youth soccer programs at Horizons Edge and soccer manager/club director Shawn Parker believes they provide a unique opportunity for underprivileged families.
Through the programs, a pathway to multiple stages of competition and coaching experiences is provided for youth athletes and there are opportunities to play in some unique environments.
“[There is] individual growth mentally, physically and nutritionally,” Parker said. “Growth in groups and social environments will help youth as they begin to engage or problem solve together. Youth sports can provide a focus or discipline with the hope to aid structure for youth.”
Horizons Edge youth programs and camp coordinator Kyra Winn is involved with a number of programs as well, including the Multi-Activity Camp, which is an eight-week program.
According to Winn, the program is a great way for local youth to remain active in the summer.
The camp offers a wide range of activities on campus, including clip-and-climb, swimming, kickball, soccer and various games, while also inviting community members to come speak.
School’s Day Out
When local youth have a day off from school, Horizons Edge offers “School’s Day Out”.
The day is full of active games, team-building activities and snacks/lunch for the kids and it also allows members of the community a great opportunity to get involved and make an impact.
Kids Night Out
When parents are in need of a date night or simply some time to themselves, Horizons Edge provides an event called Kids Night Out in a safe and fun environment at the facility.
The nights usually have a theme and include a number of games along with a dinner served.
The first themed Kids Night Out will be held Oct. 15 and the theme is Friendly Frights.
As part of that event, there will also be a Murder Mystery Night for the adults that evening.
“We are offering fun for the whole family,” Winn said.
Getting involved with the youth programs at the Horizons Edge is beneficial in numerous ways, according to those that are already playing such a big role in creating these opportunities.
With four basketball courts, six volleyball courts, an indoor multi-use turf and more, Sampson said not only does the company have top-notch facilities, but high-quality staff in place, too.
Youth should get involved with sports at Horizons Edge because the Edge has a family-friendly environment with knowledgeable and experienced staff,” Sampson said. “The Edge promotes a community atmosphere, which allows kids to make friends and develop their skills.”
Wynn said when youth get involved at Horizons Edge, a community is slowly built.
She said there’s a team for “almost everyone” and if there isn’t something that fits currently, the staff at The Edge are constantly working to improve and grow on a regular basis.
“The focus of youth programs at Horizons Edge is to provide a place for youth in the Shenandoah Valley to learn and play,” Winn said. “I believe through increasing our consistent guests, we will welcome back kids and parents who enjoy programming and recommend it.”
At Horizons Edge, there’s a unique opportunity to bring together local youth under one roof. Whether it’s a basketball standout or a soccer star, the facility provides a unique opportunity.
And for Sampson, who has developed a passion for helping those exact athletes as he’s returned home to the Shenandoah Valley, the facility is the go-to spot for area youth.
“There is a tremendous amount of expertise within each sport, which gives us a unique perspective that allows athletes to learn from people who have walked their path already and have achieved on a high level,” Sampson said. “Our perspective will not only build the athletes, but also the people of tomorrow.”