|Purpose||Christian sports league for youth|
Upward Sports is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States. It is a Christian sports league designed for kids in grades K5–8 offering four sports programs: basketball, flag football, soccer and cheerleading; in Canada, it also offers ball hockey.
Upwards Sports was founded in 1995 by Caz McCaslin to provide children with "skills for the sports arena and values for life." While training children with the athletic skills needed to participate at the next level, Upward Sports stresses biblical values—such as leadership, teamwork, integrity and respect—as much as winning.
Upward Sports leagues are conducted by 2,600 churches in 46 states and Canada, representing various evangelical denominations. Upward Sports equips local churches with everything needed to run their own leagues, including training, playbooks, sports apparel and other online tools.
The Upward complex is separated into two buildings. The Corporate offices and the Distribution/Warehouse. The corporate offices house all the day-to-day business related to managing the company.
Volunteer opportunities in Upward Sports' leagues include: Head coach, assistant coach, advertising commissioner, evaluation and orientation team, greeter, concessions, set-up and cleanup crew, cheerleading coach, referee, prayer partner, half-time devotion team, scorekeeper, follow-up team, and other opportunities.
Upward Sports began as a U.S. ministry but spread to South Africa in 2005 and has now been taken to over 70 countries. Upward Sports Missions helps churches around the world conduct leagues and camps for children ages five to thirteen. Upward Sports Missions served over 26,000 children in 2009-2010.
Upward Sports currently offers two ways for churches or other organizations to take sports "on mission" with them wherever they go. These two ministry tools, Upward Sports Case and Upward Sports Mission Camps, are used for the same ultimate purpose of serving children but function differently.
Upward Sports Mission Camps were introduced in 2006 and are conducted in conjunction as part of a short-term mission trip or outreach ministry. Mission Camps have been taken to Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, Canada, New York, Colorado, Ukraine, Poland and all around the world! Upward Sports Mission Camps provide solid, short-term programming to help churches or organizations serve children in other communities through sports.
Upward Sports Case, which was launched in 2010, contains everything needed for a church or organization to set up a sustainable Upward Sports Camp or League overseas. Upward Sports Case is designed to be carried by a current Upward Sports partner on an international mission trip, used to train the international church or organization and left behind to enable that church or organization to run their own league or camp.
1986 – Caz McCaslin developed a basketball program that incorporated athletic skills and values for success on and off the court—including sportsmanship, teamwork, integrity and respect for authority
1994 – McCaslin's church reached the maximum number of athletes that could participate by outpacing the gymnasium's capacity (despite a renovation); a waiting list was created
1995 – Launched first nationwide season of Upward Sports when seven churches hosted Upward Basketball Leagues with several hundred players
1998 - Began developing soccer at First Baptist Cleveland Tennessee as a possible addition to Upward Sports offerings. The first Upward Soccer leagues were conducted at First Baptist Cleveland for 2 years before Upward Sports offered soccer as an option for its expanding sports ministry.
2000 – Expanded to include soccer and basketball cheerleading
2003 – The 1,000th church hosted an Upward Sports League
2005 – Added flag football and flag football cheerleading. Launched first Upward Sports international league in Cape Town, South Africa
2006 – More than 400,000 children participated in Upward Sports for the first time. Launched the first Upward Sports League in Canada
2007 – International expansion continued as a league launched in Ukraine
2008 – First South American league launched in Brazil
2009 – Some 2,600 churches worldwide host Upward Sports Leagues with 520,000 children and 480,000 volunteers, coaches and referees in 46 states and four countries (Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Ukraine)
- McCaslin, Caz and Bobb Biehl. Every Child Is a Winner. B&H Publishers, 2002, p. 1-6.
- Bennett, Michelle (November 1, 2010). "Military Kids 'Have a Ball' on Upward Sports". Upward Sports. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- "Upward Sports: everyone is a winner at faith-based basketball camp". AnnArbor.com.
- "New River Baptist Association offers sports ministry". jdnews.com.
- "Upward Sports teaches Christian values through basketball, cheerleading". Lodi News-Sentinel.
- "Upward Sports welcomes crowds to $20M complex". GoUpstate.com.
- "Basketball program teaches kids skills, positivity". The Medina County Gazette.
- Capital Gazette (2 March 2015). "Glen Burnie East: Upward Sports at takes a swing at baseball for first time since 2011". capitalgazette.com.
- "Upward Sports breaks ground on complex off Highway 29". GoUpstate.com.
- "Q&A: Get to know Auburn's Upward Basketball - Auburn Journal". auburnjournal.com.
- "Sports league teaches kids about God, jumping higher". Tri-County Times.
- "Upward Sports Program proves popular". Columbia Basin Herald.
- Savannah Morning News - At Upward Basketball and Cheerleading every child is a winner
- Lancaster Eagle Gazette - Upward and onward: Christian-based sports program promotes positive reinforcement
- Cabarrus News - Christian League Leads Kids Upward[dead link]