In an era of sports when trash talking, win-at-all-cost mentalities and fights on the field seem to be the norm, it’s no wonder that 70 percent of U.S. children playing organized sports will quit by age 13 and never play again. Jacksonville kids and families, believing that sports can be a positive experience, are participating in an unconventional youth sports league which teaches that the process of competition is just as important as the outcome.

This month, Landmark Baptist Church will begin hosting sports leagues through Upward Sports — the world’s largest Christian sports league for children—coaching and mentoring Jacksonville-area kids. The church will begin by offering Upward Sports basketball leagues, with other sports planned in the future.

"Kids seem to really grow — both as athletes and friends—in an environment that focuses on skills, sportsmanship, teamwork and integrity while having fun," said Caz McCaslin, founder of Upward Sports. "It’s been exciting seeing families from several neighborhoods come together for the first time. One basketball team can often represent more than five schools. This basketball program is building friendships and community."

Focusing on healthy competition and positive sports environments that build strong self-confidence, Upward Sports equips churches with everything needed to run a competitive but fun, 10-week sports program for children K5 – sixth grade. Each year, more than 1 million people play, coach, referee or volunteer in Upward Sports Leagues.

To avoid player and parent burn out, Upward Sports limits time commitments to one practice and one game per week. Other distinctive aspects of Upward Sports Leagues include:

• Unique substitution system designed to provide every child equal playing time, competing against an equally matched opponent

• Competitive games with strict adherence to a proprietary drafting system that balances talent on each team

• Supportive coaches that bring out "the winner" in every child regardless of the game’s score

League registration started on Nov. 9 but it continues on Saturday from 8-11 a.m. Anyone wanting more information should contact Bo Carter at 501-286-0190 for league schedules.

To register for an Upward Sports League, visit or for more information about Upward Sports visit

Landmark Baptist Church is Led by Senior Pastor Tim Carter, Landmark Baptist Church was founded in 1949 and has been serving the Jacksonville community for more than 64 years. For more information, visit