When walking into the 96,000 square-foot dome of the Adirondack Sports Complex with its 75,600 square-foot indoor field, one can’t help but think run. How that thought gets magnified in the eyes of a child is one of the reasons co-owner Terri Miller decided to open the business.
“We have programs for people of all ages, but I really love to see the kids in the programs we have here. Especially when the little ones walk in (the Dome) for the first time, their eyes get so wide and a smile comes over their face. They just know they’re going to get to run,” Miller said.
Miller, who worked for many years as an elementary school teacher and still substitutes teaches regularly, said keeping kids happy and healthy has long been a passion of hers.
“I’ve seen it firsthand with my students as a teacher; kids with weight issues are more tired and often socially withheld. Kids that are active are healthier. It’s really a quality of life issue,” she said.
The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The center reports that obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. And children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
Miller believes activities such as the ones offered at the Dome can make a big difference in the lives of those involved.
“We’ve tried really hard to incorporate programs to make these kids lifelong athletes and active adults. We have activities for ages 2 all the way to adulthood,” Miller said.
And planting those seeds of love for physical activity early on is proven to improve health and life expectancy. The CDC reports that obese children are drastically more likely than those of normal weight to grow-up to be overweight or obese adults, making them more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
“With the programs here, kids leave tired,” Miller said. “I’ve even seen some heavier kids thin out throughout a program. Parents tell me behavior improves, sleep improves, all because the child got to run like children are supposed to,” she said.
Among others, Miller specifically oversees the Dome’s Little Players program, where kids ages 2 and up participate in a physical development program that uses fun and games to engage kids in physical activities. Miller said classes are designed to promote physical fitness, develop motor skills and create self-confidence. Activities range from running and ball play to hula-hoops and cooperative games.
“I’m doing it because I love it. I like the way I handle kids—it’s why I’m still substituting. With Little Players, I really enjoying engaging the kids and continually mixing up the routine so they stay interested. There’s really not a lot of programs out there that focus on kids this young,” she said.
Other activities that promote healthy living, skill building and physical activity at the Dome include zumba, soccer, field hockey, volleyball, baseball, flag football, softball, karate, Lacrosse, golf and yoga.
“My husband I began this business because we couldn’t find anywhere for our daughter to practice softball during the off season when she was in high school. Kids need to stay healthy and active year round. We saw a need a decided to fill it,” she said.
The Millers are now in their sixth year of business promoting healthy lifestyles through sports.
Karate programs begin at age 4 at the Dome. Baseball and softball run from age 5 and up. Zumba and yoga are offered for all ages. Soccer and field hockey boast an under 8 division.
The Dome also offers summer camps and school vacation programs that emphasize activity for kids of nearly any age.
“We often get the kids that won’t sit still anywhere else,” Miller said laughing. “And that’s a good thing. We have 5 sports fields outdoors, and indoors we have 4 practice fields that are easily converted to other sports fields. We hike the perimeter outdoors and run, play, do arts and crafts. This is an active kid’s vacation dream,” she said.
Miller believes that what really sets her business apart, and what keeps kids and adult alike coming back is her staff.
“Being a teacher, I have a lot of friends that are experienced teachers with high energy. We have an excellent staff of coaches and we are excited about what we do here. We staff adults with experience that love what they do,” she said.
Miller said the complex also features birthday parties with bounce houses or rock climbing, free play options, and myriad of league sports.
“We really try to be as flexible as we can so everyone who wants to use our space can. We have birthday parties for parents who don’t want kids just sit. I even had a father call up because he wanted to pitch a few balls to his son in the middle of the winter. We really try to accommodate everyone we can. In fact, it’s how many of our programs began—with a phone call and a question,” she said.
“My husband has a degree in sports medicine and I’ve been a teacher for a very long time. We combined the two to promote the love of sports and physical activity for people of all ages when we opened here,” Miller said.