Tis the season to hang stockings, trim the tree, bake cookies…and think about spring and summer sports! What?! That’s right, just after you take your tree down it’ll be time to register for spring and summer sports. So be deciding now what your little one, tween, or teenager wants to play. There are adult leagues too!

Conway Parks and Rec just published its 2018 calendar. And parents of little ones, it can be very confusing. I’m here to help with that; because my husband and I have been through it several times with both genders. And the more you do it, the easier it gets!

According to the latest annual report, more than two-thousand Conway youth play city sports each year. They range in age from four years old to fifteen. Steve Ibbotson, the director of the Parks and Rec Department, said strong youth sports are vital to an attractive community. "People move to cities that provide great recreation for the residents. No matter what it is."

So here’s the schedule:

- For boys and girls ages six to fifteen wanting to play softball or baseball, registration is up first. It opens January sixteenth, and closes February eleventh. Heads up to the youngest parents; your child’s skills will be evaluated before being placed on a team. Everyone makes it on a team but they are divided up according to skill level.

The different age groups are broken up into leagues. The qualifying ages and birthdates can get quite confusing. Check out the parks & rec website to figure out which league to sign up for.

The season starts in April. Be sure to budget for the eighty-dollar registration fee. Each additional sibling is fifty-five dollars.

- For our youngest athletes, co-ed t-ball registration opens February 26th. It gets complicated when figuring out the child’s age bracket. Girls must be four or five by December 31, 2017. Boys must be four or five by April 30, 2018. These youngsters skills’ are not evaluated before being place on a team.

T-ball registration is thirty-dollars. The season starts in April.

- Special needs athletes will be registering March 26th for Brave Baseball. The season starts in April and is free.

- Boys and girls ages 1st-6th grade can register for flag football in May. The season starts in July and costs fifty-five dollars.

- Registration for fall sports is in July. Stay tuned to the city’s parks & rec website for details.

- For adults, summer softball registration opens in February. Kickball, basketball, and volleyball registrations are later in the year.

Ibbotson says a parks bond issue that voters approved ten years ago made a huge impact on Conway sports. With that 13.5 million dollars they built new softball and baseball complexes and extended the Tucker Creek bike trail. Ibbotson says, "The investment in the bond issue has nothing but bolstered the opportunity for our youth and has brought a lot of people to Conway that wouldn’t have otherwise come."

So as you’re enjoying new Christmas gifts, eating lots of good food, and ringing in the new year, you might think about locating your ball glove because the parks & rec department is always looking for volunteer coaches. What a great way to spend time with your kiddos!

You can register for any of the sports on the city’s website at conwayparks.com.

Melissa Gates is the Communications Specialist for the city of Conway. For more information visit www.cityofconway.org or follow @thecityofconway on Twitter.