New ‘Junior Thunderbirds’ program rolling out to area youth
By Tom Haraldsen
CEDAR CITY–The Southern Utah University Athletics Department and Cedar City Recreation have announced a partnership with youth sports teams in Cedar City. It will be known as the Junior Thunderbirds program.
City councilmembers learned about the program at their Aug. 23 meeting. Nick Bartlett, SUU Assistant Athletic Director, and Cedar City Recreation Department Sports and Recreation manager Jennifer Weaver detailed the program for council members.
As part of the partnership, the youth leagues will have new, re-branded jerseys with a logo created by the SUU Athletic Department. Junior Thunderbirds will also have the opportunity to interact with SUU coaches and student-athletes, who will appear at their games as “Celebrity Coaches.” They will also receive a certificate signed by their head coach, Cedar City Recreation Director Bryan Dangerfield, and the head coach at SUU for their specific sport. Thor will also be appearing at different events.
Junior Thunderbirds will cover the following sports: Flag football, volleyball, basketball, t-ball, machine pitch, baseball and softball.
“We’re firm believers that athletics can add so much to the development of a person’s life when they’re growing up,” SUU Interim Athletic Director Debbie Corum said in a release. “Being part of helping youth develop an active lifestyle is something at the heart of who we are and what we’re about. This is a very special partnership for us because of that. We look forward to not only supporting these youth in their endeavors, but having them come and support us in ours.”
This three-year partnership was crafted in an effort to bridge the gap between the SUU Athletic Department and the community of Cedar City. It will give coaches and student-athletes the opportunity to get to know several new community members and build a bond with the youth of the area.
Weaver was a major factor in making this partnership happen, Dangerfield said. Weaver has been involved in Cedar City recreation for three years and has either been a coach or had children participating in the program for 17 years. She is also the mother of current Thunderbird softball player Javlyn.
“Jennifer Weaver has done an outstanding job building our city youth sports and recreation programs, and we are pleased to partner with Southern Utah University athletics to create the Junior Thunderbird program which will add another dimension of fun and value,” Dangerfield said. “We enjoy a great relationship with SUU, and having our participants benefit from a closer association with the athletes and games is a win for everyone.”
“Having lived in Cedar City all my life, one thing I have loved about Cedar is the feeling of community relationships,” Weaver said. “This partnership between Southern Utah University Athletics and Cedar City Recreation will be another great way to create a relationship of support to both the city sports programs and the university’s athletic programs.”
Junior Thunderbirds will also be eligible for ticket promotions if they wear jerseys to specific games.
“The new Cedar City Recreation Junior Thunderbird Program gives the youth of our community opportunities to participate,” Weaver continued. “It will be a springboard to help many children achieve their goals of sports participation. Whether it be just to participate for social growth, self-esteem building, or for going on to higher level of competition. Children of all levels and abilities are able to compete in the recreational programs we provide. The university has always been a big part of our community so we are excited to be partnering with them.”