Youth athletics programs are a terrific way for kids to make lifelong friends and feel a sense of community. Children also learn skills they’ll use into adulthood, like communication and teamwork. So gather with friends and neighbors at these top places where your kids can play sports around Lincoln Park, Illinois.

Windy City Sports Academy

Kids play basketball at a sports facility in Lincoln Park, Illinois

Youth Sports Basketball” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by USAG-Humphreys

Children of all ages can take advantage of the Windy City Sports Academy at the Fieldhouse on West Logan Boulevard. Its outstanding youth program provides the kids with various opportunities to strengthen their skills in a no-pressure environment.

The coaches at the academy have structured this after-school and weekend program with a focus on learning rather than competing. Girls and boys get the chance to take part in events like leagues, tournaments, one-day camps, and even private lessons in seasonal sporting activities like basketball, indoor soccer, volleyball, flag football, tennis, and golf. The Windy City Sports Academy’s annual schedule runs as follows:

  • Fall: September to November.
  • Winter: November to February.
  • Mid-Winter: February to April.
  • Spring: April to June.
  • Summer classes and camps: June to September.

Lake View YMCA

Lake View YMCA on North Marshfield Avenue is a community-focused nonprofit that has served active families since 1844. It offers recreational programs for everyone in the family. Your local “Y” is the starting point for kids to learn about physical fitness and other healthy habits they’ll use throughout their lives.

Enroll your child in a YMCA sports program to improve their fitness and have fun. Your child will make friends, learn new skills, and gain the confidence that comes with conquering a new activity. Whether the lesson builds positive relationships through sportsmanship and teamwork or helps refine their technical skills, the Y’s coaches are all about supporting the whole athlete. You can find class descriptions and other information on the Lake View YMCA’s website. Children from the ages of 5 to 14 can participate in sports programs such as:

  • Basketball skills clinic.
  • Volleyball.
  • Basketball.
  • 3-on-3 summer basketball league.
  • Gymnastics.
  • Swim team.

Lakeshore Sport and Fitness

Round up the kids and head to Lakeshore Sport and Fitness on West Fullerton Avenue. This destination for fun and fitness features a diverse community of like-minded people who love competitive sporting activities. The leaders here believe that participating in sports is critical to your child’s development, not only physically but also in developing leadership skills and behaviors like respect. 

The staff teaches kids each sport’s fundamentals, while instilling a love of the game. Children under 10 will focus on developing motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and sportsmanship. Those in grades five through eight can learn ways to build confidence and skill, with programs such as the Born to Run youth training program. Kids aged 8 to 14 years who love to run can prepare for 3Ks, 5Ks, and even half marathons on Lakeshore’s 1/4 mile indoor track.

If your child prefers basketball, sign them up for play. Lakeshore’s comprehensive program will improve their endurance, balance, and agility. Pick from an age-appropriate class, such as:

  • Bitty Basketball (3 to 5 years).
  • Youth Basketball (6 to 9 years).
  • Junior Basketball (10 to 13 years).

Youth Soccer International

Youth Soccer International’s primary location is Alcott Elementary School’s Turf Field, right in the heart of Lincoln Park. First through fifth-graders will learn the organization’s core values of community, togetherness, and friendship. Thanks to this program’s supportive leaders, parents report that their kids are happier and more confident on and off the field. YSI’s goal is to ensure every player:

  • Has fun playing the game.
  • Learns soccer skills and strategies to improve as a player.
  • Learns principles like sportsmanship, fair play, dedication, and teamwork.
  • Feels valued regardless of how they perform on the field.
  • Receives encouraging and constructive coaching by YSI’s dedicated staff.
  • Feels like they are a part of a community, including coaches, players, and their families.
  • Graduates from YSI with a lifelong love for soccer.

B.I.G. Baseball Academy

Located on South Western Boulevard, B.I.G. Baseball Academy is the place for kids to participate in various baseball camps and clinics around the Chicago area. Since 2006, founder Kerron Walker’s mission has instilled the area’s young people with a passion for baseball. 

At B.I.G. (Best Instruction Guaranteed), your children can attend camp sessions that provide professional baseball instruction in skills like hitting and pitching, emphasizing ethics, teamwork, and excellence on and off the diamond. More than 2,000 students have participated in B.I.G.’s programs, including weekday summer camps hosted at area schools and other organizations.

Many former academy students and campers have gone on to accomplish great things in their sport. For example, player Taylor Jackson is the center fielder for the University of Illinois, and De La Salle Institute’s right-hand pitcher is B.I.G.’s 2007 camper Ben Hernandez.

Chicago Archery Academy

Archery is a safe and fun sport for everyone in the family. Chicago Archery Academy on Eldamain Road offers children and adults the opportunity to learn proper archery marksmanship and equipment maintenance. Chicago Archery on Georgetown Square is also your one-stop shop for hunting bows, crossbows, target bows, and archery accessories.

The instructors at this school provide young learners with a safe, friendly environment that fosters self-confidence, discipline, and respect. Take a one-hour private lesson, or you can enroll the kiddos in a weekly beginner’s course.

The academy offers a National Field Archery Association-certified archery training program that teaches kids as young as 6 years-old techniques on traditional recurve and compound bows. In addition, family members between 8 and 20 years who want to compete in tournaments can join Chicago Archer’s Junior Olympic Archery Development program.

That’s a wrap! From recreational to competitive sports, Crème de la Crème of Lincoln Park knows where your family can get involved. If you like our picks, use this list of the city’s best places where your kids can start participating today. Did we miss a local athletic program — one Windy City kids love? If we did, let us know! Drop us a line so we can share it with other Illinois families.