WEST MICHIGAN SPORTS GUIDE 2018
Grand Rapids has sports teams for all interests and ages. In fact, all the possibilities can make it a bit overwhelming! But we’re here to help. Whether you’re looking for golf, basketball, LAX or something else, below, you will find a list of places around greater Grand Rapids that offer sporting programs for kids.
The list is organized by sport, so browse through each section and figure out the best fit for your child. No matter their athletic interests, there is a team in Grand Rapids for them!
*The following are sponsored listings.
Soccer is one of the most nationally recognized sports. Now that Grand Rapids boasts its very own minor league soccer team, your little goalie will be all the more eager to learn how to play and participate in this easy-to-learn sport. Below you’ll find the best sources for soccer in Grand Rapids.
MFA Offers soccer options for athletes as young as 3 all year long! We exist to positively impact the lives of children and families by providing educational programs that build Character, develop Capability, and strengthen our Community – ALL through the sports of soccer and futsal. Participants in all youth programs will focus on fundamental skills as well as foster a passion for the game.
Check out our programs for Kids:
Little Rascals: Birth Years 2015-2013
Little Rascals combines exciting games and skill development in introductory age-appropriate sessions for an unmatched introduction to soccer. Our goal at this age is to teach players sweet skills and help them fall in love with the beautiful game!
Rascals: Birth years 2012-2004
Rascals is Michigan Futbol Academy’s community soccer program that provides players with access to quality coaching and facilities while keeping costs and commitment low. This program is all about providing players with quality training, instruction and league play, regardless of skill or commitment level.
MFA’s mission is simple: Teach. Life. Sport. We strive to develop our athletes on and off the court, through the way we teach and through sport.
“As a parent, I want high-character coaches who care, and I want those coaches to push my daughter to be the best that she can be. MFA provides that for my daughter and I wouldn’t want her to play anywhere else.”
The NW Youth Soccer Association (“NWYSA”) is a program that provides life skills and simply a good time through the Intro, Rec and Rec Travel levels of soccer. NWYSA serves children ages 2-15 in Belmont, Comstock Park, NW Grand Rapids, Walker and surrounding communities.
MORE PLACES TO PLAY SOCCER
- Alliance Academy
- American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) | For ages 3 years to 18 years
- CATS FC | For ages 7 years to 18 years
- City of East Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation | For ages Kindergarten to 5th grade
- City of Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation | For ages 5 years to 14 years
- Grand Rapids FC | For ages 4 years to 18 years
- Midwest United FC | For ages 4 years to 18 years
- Pass FC Soccer Club | Three playing levels, based on age and ability
- Rapids FC | For ages 3 years to 18 years
- Soccer Buddies | For ages 15 months to 12 years
- Vardar Soccer | For ages 6 years to 18 years
- YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids | For grades Pre-K through 8th grade
With as much water as Michigan has, it’s important that every kid knows how to swim. West Michigan is filled to the brim with fantastic places for swimming and learning how to swim. Read on to find a great place near you to get lessons or join a club.
Goldfish Swim School was created by parents, for families, with this goal in mind — to give kids the platform to learn an essential life skill. A place where kids overcome their fears, learn to swim, respect the water and have lots of fun while doing it. When designing our state-of-the-art facility, we specifically designed each aspect with families in mind: wide spaces for strollers, private changing huts, toys & books in the waiting area, snack shack, but best of all is our pool. We offer a shallow, shiver-free pool. But, truly this is all just a backdrop to all the hard work and fun at Goldfish.
We pride ourselves on our curriculum and teaching philosophy, The Science of SwimPlay® which is play based learning. Our curriculum teaches water acclimation, water safety and the progression of the four USA competitive swim strokes. We offer perpetual lessons, which mean you can sign-up at any time. Our lessons are geared to the age range of 4 months to 12 years of age, but easily go beyond. All of our teacher go through a comprehensive 40-hour training period before taking on classes, so you know your kids are being taught by experienced instructors.
“Goldfish expertly weaves a balance of safety, fun and achievement into every single lesson. Your child will love learning to swim and you will watch them gain skill and confidence each week. My three boys have attended and I couldn’t love this place more. First class organization all the way!”
Whether you are an experienced swimmer or are just getting comfortable with the water, MVP Sports Clubs has the perfect swim program for you. Our American Red Cross certified programs are designed to help you build skills and confidence in and around the water. Group or private lessons are available year-round for kids ages 6 months and up.
MORE PLACES TO SWIM
- Byron Center Aquatics | For ages 6 years to 18 years
- City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation | Lessons for ages 6 month and up
- East Grand Rapids Aquatic Waves | For ages 6 years and up
- Grandville Bulldog Swimming | For ages 4 years to 18 years
- Hudsonville Eagles Aquatic Team (HEAT) | Four levels for age group swim available
- Jenison Area Wildcat Swimming (JAWS) | Age groups 8 and under and up
- Kentwood Aquatics Club | For ages 6 years to 14 years
- Lowell Lionfish Community Swim Team | For ages 5 years to 17 years
- The Salvation Army Kroc Center | Lessons offered for all ages and levels
If Grand Rapids Drive has taught us anything, it’s that Grand Rapids is ready to shoot some three-pointers. If your little one is ready to learn how to dribble and shoot just like our very own minor league basketball team, check out what Grand Rapids has to offer below!
At MBA we are passionate about fostering the values and lessons learned through sports. We are focused on three distinct pillars with our athletes: 1) their fundamental skills, 2) their physical athleticism, and 3) their enhancement of life skills. These life skills include self-confidence, leadership, hard work, what it means to be a teammate, respect, determination, how to be humble yet be sure of yourself, listening and applying, and having fun through competition. We expect our athletes to learn and grow in this game and also as young men and women.
Our 616 program provides a low cost and low commitment option for athletes looking to improve their basketball skills and foster a love for the game. It focuses on teaching fundamental techniques and skills to help develop players of all skills.
MBA’s mission is simple: Teach. Life. Sport. We strive to develop our athletes on and off the court, through the way we teach and through sport.
As a parent, I can say my son would not have been able to accomplish his goal of playing in high school if we had not invested in MBA. MBA offers multiple skill levels so that even the kid at the lower end of the skill range can accomplish their goal of growing their basketball skills just because they love the game.
MORE PLACES TO PLAY BASKETBALL
- Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) | For ages 7 years and under through 18 years
- Grand Rapids Phoenix Basketball | Teams of various ages and skill
- Hoopsmart Basketball Camps | Summer camp, for grades 4th through 9th grade
- West Michigan Drive | Multiple travel teams at most grade levels
- YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids | For ages Pre-K through 8th grade
Who doesn’t love tennis? Some of us just run around the court chasing the ball, and some of us are actually pretty good. If you’re looking to help your child improve tennis skills, then look no further!
MVP Sports Clubs offer tennis programs for all ages and skill levels. For young athletes, MVP offers USTA 10 and Under programs designed to bring ALL kids into the game by using specialized equipment and shorter courts in a fun and exciting play format. Players will learn basic tennis strokes, correct form, scoring and rally skills and serves.
MVP offers an expansive juniors tennis program (10+) designed to offer opportunities for athletes to build on their knowledge of the game and advance their skills. Junior Programs include Middle School Tennis, MVP Stars, MVP Elite, MVP Tour and High School Tennis.
To help keep athletes’ skills sharp over the summer, MVP offers Summer Tennis Academy designed to build the person behind the player. Daily instruction consists of work on every aspect of the players game including supervised match play and tournaments challenging players to utilize the skills they have been working on.
All Tennis Pros carry certifications in either US Professional Tennis Association or Professional Tennis Registry.
MORE PLACES TO PLAY TENNIS
- City of East Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation | For ages 4 years to 9 years
- City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation | For ages 6 years to 16 years
In the Zone Tennis | Offered in the summer, for ages 4 years and up
- GR Racquet + Fitness | Junior programs available for ages 8 years sto 18 years
- The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids | For ages 3 years to 12 years
So many kids beg their parents for a pet horse, but it just isn’t realistic for everyone to own one. But getting them riding lessons is the next best thing! All the horse fun a kid could want, but at someone else’s barn.
Come enjoy the horse-human connection with our 25 well trained horses and ponies of all sizes. Any level, age or ability is welcome!
Equestrian vaulting for ages 3+ Vaulting combines elements of gymnastics, dance, and music on a moving horse. It teaches balance, rhythm, confidence, teamwork and social skills. No prior experience is required. Try it out every Saturday from 12-1 pm for only $15!
Riding lessons for ages 2-10 One hour wholistic lessons in a small groups include learning safety on and around the horse, grooming, tacking, riding and more! Riders learn to ride English, Western and bareback in our indoor arena. Young riders, ages 2-6, can have a 30 minute private lesson in our KinderPony program.
Therapeutic riding and adaptive vaulting is offered one-on-one for individuals with special needs. Most students quickly relax and harmonize with the horse, gaining balance, coordination, and strength through stimulation of countless muscles. Exercises provide a sense of achievement, boosting confidence and self-esteem.
‘Own-A-Horse Camp’ Riders aged 6+ experience what it is like to own a horse! They will learn all aspects of horse care including: feeding, grooming, stable management, and how to ride. Play games to learn horse and saddle parts, horse colors, different breeds and how a horse thinks.
Riding by appointment only.
My daughter Maria has been involved with Karin’s Horse Connection since 2012. She started riding when she was three and instantly fell in love. Karin and the riding instructors have developed Maria into a skilled rider. If you are looking for a place where your child will grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually, then Karin’s Horse Connection is the place for you.
Kathy Williams Quarter Horses, located just minutes from Lowell, Cascade and Ada, provides boarding, showing, private, semi-private and group lessons for beginners and experienced riders in English/jumping and Western. Private lessons are 30 minutes and semi/group are one hour. We have a variety of horses to fit everyone. Our number one priority is rider and horse safety.
We asked our readers where we could take kids to ride horses for the day and you gave us answers! We gathered that information in one place in case you missed it. Use this list to find out more about where to take your kids for a day of riding or lessons. Plus, each of these locations comes recommended by one of our Facebook fans – you can’t beat that!
Does your little one have big Olympic dreams of taking home the gold, like Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings? Volleyball programs are the best place to get the Olympic dreams started and Grand Rapids has some great ones!
MVA Offers volleyball options for athletes as young as Kindergarten all year long! Participants in all youth programs will focus on: Serving, attacking, hand-eye development, footwork and movement patterns, over-the-net drills and skills, movement skills, underhand skill training emphasis, overhand fundamentals, ball movement training, 3 contact same side and small court play.
Check out our programs for Kids.
VolleyKids: K-4th Grade
VolleyKids is an introductory clinic designed for our youngest athletes in K-2nd grade and 3rd & 4th grade. Participants will learn basic volleyball techniques and movements and will begin to foster a passion for the game! This clinic is run on a lowered net, with light recreational balls and is open to both boys and girls.
Youth Academy: 5th-6th Grade
Our Youth Academy Program participants training alongside our 12 and under competitive level teams once a week. This program is designed to develop young athletes by introducing and reinforcing basic skills and techniques while continuing to foster a passion for the game. Classes are open to both boys and girls!
MVA’s mission is simple: Teach. Life. Sport. We strive to develop our athletes on and off the court, through the way we teach and through sport.
“As a mother of two MVA players, my biggest prayer is that my girls will grow up and live their lives with purpose, grit, confidence and integrity. The programs at MVA have made a significant and lasting impression on my girls. The coaches are world class and invest in the character of the girls.”
MORE PLACES TO PLAY VOLLEYBALL
- Davenport University Nike Volleyball Camps | For ages 10 years to 18 years
- Dead Frog Volleyball | For ages 12 years to 18 years
- Far Out Volleyball Club | For ages 12 years to 18 years
- Inside Out Juniors | For ages 12 years through 18 years
- YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids | For ages 9 years through 12 years
Golf is a great activity for kids. Junior Golf teaches patience, focus, respect and problem solving–skills that will benefit your children long after they’ve walked off the course. And it’s an activity that you can enjoy together, even when they’re grown. If your child is into golf, they live in the right place! There are many programs in Grand Rapids for even the youngest golf enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a place to swing the clubs, check out Maple Hill Golf— a golf course AND retail shop!
Maple Hill Golf has become the #1 golf retailer in Michigan and a local favorite for customers looking to demo the latest golf equipment or enjoy a round on the 18- hole, executive length course. Now featuring Junior Golf and Footgolf, Maple Hill Golf is the hot spot for kids learning to love golf.
MORE PLACES TO PLAY GOLF
- Arrowhead Golf Course | For ages 6 years through 14 years
- Cascade Hills Country Club | For ages 5 years and up
- Junior Golf Academy | For ages 7 years through 17 years
- Maple Hill Golf Club | For ages 7 years through 17 years
- Mines Golf Course | For ages 6 years to 15 years
- Railside Golf Club | For ages 13 years and under
- Saskatoon Golf Club | For ages 8 years through 17 years
- Scott Lake | For ages 17 years and under
- StoneWater Country Club | For ages 13 years and under
- Sunnybrook Country Club | For ages 5 years and up
- The First Tee West Michigan | For ages 7 years through 17 years
- The Pines Golf Course | For ages 4 years through 9 years
- Thornapple Pointe | For ages 18 years and under
- Thousand Oaks Golf Academy | For ages 6 years and up
- Watermark Country Club | For all ages
- Winding Creek Golf Club | For ages 7 years through 17 years
- YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids | For ages 3 years and up
ICE SKATING & HOCKEY
Michigan is a champion of the winter sports scene! If the ice is where it’s at for your little one, there are plenty of places around West Michigan to take lessons and perfect their form on skates.
Southside Skating School provides opportunities for skaters of all ages and skill levels to experience the wonderful sport of skating, all year round! In each 7 week session, skaters will learn new skills and practice elements within their class level, taught by our dedicated and certified coaching staff. We follow the curriculum of Learn to Skate, USA, preparing skaters for a lifetime love of skating and to help them achieve their goals whether it’s general skating abilities, or advancing to hockey or figure skating classes. For more information and to register, please visit our website: www.southsidearena.com
MORE PLACES TO GET ON THE ICE
- Fox Motors Hockey Club | House and travel teams
- Grand Rapids Blades Hockey | House and travel teams
- HAWK Hockey | House and travel teams
- Patterson Ice Center | Skating lessons and classes
- Rams Hockey | House and travel teams
For information on other skating, hockey, and other winter sports in greater Grand Rapids, please view our Winter Outdoor Play Guide.
Lacrosse has been gaining a lot of popularity in West Michigan. If your kids want to get in on this fast-paced sport, opportunities continue to grow. Check out some great options below!
MLXA provides lacrosse programming for the kindergartener looking to try lacrosse for the first time, all the way to the elite high school athlete. Fundamental skills will be taught as well as a focus on our core values that apply to life beyond the sport. Your child will be able to grow in their knowledge of lacrosse as well as begin to foster a love for the sport.
Little Laxers is an introductory clinic for beginners. Participants will learn the basic techniques and movements in order to begin to foster a passion for the game! The Youth Training Program will combine instruction & games each week. MLXA will provide all necessary equipment.
MLXA’s mission is simple: Teach. Life. Sport. We strive to develop our athletes on and off the field, through the way we teach and through sport.
“My son had shown an interest in lacrosse and I loved that the clinics at MLXA were a fun way to introduce him to Lacrosse. The coaches were energetic and he was able to learn a lot and foster a new passion for this sport.”
MORE PLACES TO PLAY LAX
- Caledonia Youth Lacrosse | For grades 1st through 8th grade
- East Pride Lacrosse | For grades Kindergarten through 8th grade
- Forest Hills Youth Lacrosse | For grades 1st through 8th grade
- Grandville Youth Lacrosse | For grades Kindergarten through 8th grade
- Lowell Youth Lacrosse | For grades 1st through 8th grade
- Hudsonville Youth Lacrosse | For grades 3rd through 8th grade
MARTIAL ARTS PROGRAMS
If you have your own aspiring Karate Kid, enrollment in a Martial Arts program is a must! Check out some local Martial Arts programs below.
Students will learn the best martial art for self defense while enhancing problem solving skills, boosting self confidence and learning patience and discipline. Our Head Coach, Jadyson Costa, is a 3rd degree Black Belt BJJ/Black Belt Muay Thai.
Little Warriors classes: ages 5-7
Junior Warriors classes: ages 8-12
Teen Warriors classes: ages 13-16
At Super T we pride ourselves on teaching the highest quality martial arts, character development and moral integrity. We welcome children from age 4 up to adults of any age. Your dedication combined with our style and approach to martial arts will transform your life, both on and off the mats!
MORE PLACES TO DO MARTIAL ARTS
- Big Dog Tae Kwon Do | Programs for children and families
- Chan’s Kung Fu School | Several programs available; Youth Kung Fu for ages 6 and up
- Flees Martial Arts | For grades Pre-K and up
- Mirandette’s Martial Arts Center | For ages 4 and up
- PAKS Karate | Programs for kids
- Pro-Karate | Programs for kids
- YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids | For ages 5 years to 14 years and for ages 15 years and up
If your child is looking for a fast-paced team sport, Ultimate Frisbee might be the sport to try. While Ultimate Frisbee at the youth level is newer to Grand Rapids, it is a large and growing sport nation-wide. It’s a non-contact team sport, perfect for kids who like to learn strategy and have fun.
Zig Zag Ultimate is the only Ultimate Frisbee organization in Grand Rapids. We have programs for brand new players to experienced players ages 5-19!
Ultimate is a FUN, high intensity, non-contact, co-ed, and self-officiated sport! Come discover how fun it is for yourself. Ultimate frisbee was also recognized by the Olympic committee as an official sport in 2015!
Being on the West side of the state, some of us may not agree on whether the Lions rule, or if the Bears are the best, but one thing is for sure, we all love football! Whether you’re looking for traditional football or flag football, you can find it here!
PLACES TO PLAY FLAG FOOTBALL
- Caledonia Youth Flag Football | For grades 2nd through 6th grade
- Grand Rapids Christian Flag Football | 4 years through 8 years
- Lowell Youth Flag Football | 4 years through 2nd grade
- National Flag Football | Camps and leagues starting at grades Pre-k and up
- Northview Wildcat Flag Football | For grades 1st through 2nd grade
- Rockford Youth Flag Football | Ages 4 through 2nd grade
PLACES TO PLAY YOUTH TACKLE FOOTBALL
- Caledonia Youth Football | For grades 3rd through 7th grade
- East Grand Rapids Youth Football League | For grades 3rd through 6th grade
- Forest Hills Youth Football League | For grades Kindergarten through 8th grade
- Grand Rapids Christian Youth Football | Starting at age 4 through 8th grade
- Kentwood Rocket Football | Grades 3rd through 7th grade
- Lowell Youth Football | Grades 3rd through 8th grade
- Northview Wildcat Youth Football | Grades 3rd through 6th grade
- Rockford Youth Football | Grades 3rd through 7th grade
Did you know Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Lansing all have minor league baseball teams? West Michigan is in love with baseball and has been for years!
Whether you’re a Tigers fan or secretly rooting for a different team, the love of baseball runs deep in Michiganders.
Many parks throughout Grand Rapids boast a baseball diamond (or four) and on the weekends you might see a few games running. If you’re looking to get your kids in on the action, check out the programs we’ve got listed here!
MORE PLACES TO PLAY BASEBALL
- Algoma Little League
- Allendale Little League
- Baseball Concepts
- Belding Little League
- Byron Township Little League
- Caledonia Chaos Fastpitch Softball
- Caledonia Little League / Caledonia Baseball Softball League
- City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation
- Georgetown Little League
- Grand Rapids Blaze Softball
- Grandville Little League
- Hamilton Little League
- Holland Little League
- Hudsonville Little League
- Kelloggsville Little League
- Lowell Little League
- Northeastern Little League
- Northern Little League
- Northview Little League
- Northwestern Little League
- Rockford Little League
- Southern Little League
- Sparta Little League
- Thornapple Valley Baseball League
- Thunder Fastpitch
- West Michigan Outlaws
- West Michigan Warriors Travel Baseball and Softball
- Western Little League
- YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids
- Zeeland Little League
Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin may have influenced how you look at wrestling, but if you’ve ever watched school-aged kids wrestle, you know wrestling is no joke. It takes discipline and practice, and teaches kids how to use their whole body effectively to compete. Below are some places to check out for your aspiring wrestler.
MORE PLACES TO WRESTLE
- Caledonia Wrestling Club | For kindergarten through 8th grade
- Grand Rapids Christian Wrestling | For 1st through 8th grade
- Grand Rapids Wrestling Academy | Youth wrestling club
- Lowell Youth Wrestling Club | For ages 4 and up
- Northview Wildcat Youth Wrestling | Boys ages 6 to 15 years; Girls ages 6 to 18 years
SPEED & AGILITY
Is your child looking to improve his or her speed and strength? Speed and agility training will do just that. This training can compliment many sports that your child loves and help them to perform at their best.
Movies like Princess Bride, The Three Musketeers, and Star Wars: A New Hope make sword play look like, well, sword play. However, fencing is serious work. Fencing, while not a difficult sport to learn, is a difficult sport to master. It has a very defined set of rules and requires a great deal of discipline. If this is something your child would enjoy, check out these options below.
DANCE & GYMNASTICS PROGRAMS
For information on dance programs in greater Grand Rapids, please view our Guide to Music, Theater, Art, and Dance Classes in Grand Rapids.
For information on gymnastics programs, please check out our Gymnastics Guide.
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