They cheer for them from the stands.

But young sports aficionados can also sharpen their own athletic skills by working side-by-side with members of their favorite sports franchises through programs designed to show them the ropes.

The El Paso Locomotive FC, whose inaugural season kicked off in March, recently launched their Lil’ Locos program.

Lil’ Locos offers developmentally appropriate practice sessions where children ages 4-6 learn about soccer and practice social skills – with an emphasis on fun.

“For many of these kids, it’s the first time in a sports program,” said Bob Bigney, director of soccer operations. “It’s not about winning championships at this young age; but rather learning soccer skills and having fun with friends in a healthy, encouraging environment.”

The El Paso Rhinos hockey team offers three distinct levels of youth hockey instruction: Dallas Star’s Learn to Play, YMCA and Travel programs.

“The Learn to Play program (ages 4-8) is geared toward kids who are just learning how to skate,” said Tyler DeLoach, Rhinos director of operations. “The YMCA program (ages 4-14) teaches basic skating, stick handling and shooting. The Travel program (ages 5-18) is composed of advanced kids on teams competing against squads across Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.”

The El Paso Chihuahuas have continued to promote local high school baseball and softball.

“We’re deeply involved with the Border Youth Athletic Association to help provide not only funds, but equipment, for boys and girls to enjoy baseball and softball,” said Brad Taylor, senior vice president and general manager.

The baseball team’s NeXt program provides high school teams a chance to play in summer leagues.

“Three years ago there were no summer leagues for players 15 years old or older,” Taylor said. “Now with over 40 teams, this gives the young men more practice and more competition to help them grow and have a better opportunity to get to the next level.

“Also, through the partnership with Marathon Oil and Howdy’s, our Field of Dreams’ program has rebuilt five local high school baseball fields.”

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