NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Looking to get involved in the community, but don’t have much time to commit? Sports Buddies is a community-based mentoring program, which is part of the organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee (BBBS).

“It’s a bit of a lesser commitment. We ask that our volunteers and our families commit a minimum of six months,” said Alexa Regina, Sports Buddies Program Manager.

Participants then attend two activities a month. Local On 2’s Laura Schweizer spent her Saturday with the Bigs and Littles at Shelby Park Community Center

“We have a bunch of pickleball equipment, so we’re hoping to maybe make some new pickleball fans today.”

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Big and Little, Shanise and Jess, participated in a boxing class for one of the Sports Buddies activities. (Credit: BBBS)

Even though America’s fastest-growing sport wasn’t exactly popular in the group, they hit the main goal.  

“Like running free and playing together and enjoying the summer together,” Regina said.

Rico, a Little, has been part of the program for at least two years and said it’s a chance for him to get outside and be more active.

“Since I’ve been in Sports Buddies it’s forced me to do more stuff,” he said.

Regina stated the program allows many of the children a chance to try new experiences for the first time.

“I think those kinds of opportunities to try something new with someone is such a great bonding experience,” she said.

The program is mutually beneficial for both Bigs and Littles.

“They’re building a relationship with a person who they more than likely would have never ever met in any other setting of their life,” Regina stated.

Rico (left) and Ryan (right) were matched nearly two years ago through Sports Buddies. (Credit: BBBS)

Rico was paired up with his Big Brother Ryan, who said it’s been a very fulfilling experience to see his Little grow.

“Since we started, I think Rico’s’ gotten a lot more open and kind of just boisterous and more himself, showing more personality. I think we’re just building rapport and getting to be good friends.” Ryan said.

The matching process through BBBS is very hands-on. Both Bigs and Littles are interviewed, and matched by similar interests and commonalities.

“Rico’s a great kid and I really enjoy spending time with him,” Ryan said. “It’s phenomenal, there are a number of different programs – sports specific. But the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is a really great organization and I highly recommend it.”

Sports Buddies is looking for time from mentors – just two Saturdays a month for a couple of hours, can really impact the life of a child in our area. Click here to get involved.