On Guard! The Forgotten Olympic Sports Your Kid Should Try Now

Published on: December 30, 2013

Little girl playing  ping-pong.By Emily Metcalfe Smith

Your kid loves basketball, so you wander down the street to the community center, sign her up for camp. Maybe it’s golf next — no problem, you head to the driving range and get a bucket of balls. Now that the 2012 Summer Olympics are in full swing and she’s glued to the coverage, you’re wondering where one takes a youngster bitten by the fencing, archery or badminton bug. Never fear, we have a list for that, too. Here are some of the lesser-known Olympic sports to try around town. (And don't miss our piece on throwing your own DIY Olympic bash!)

Aquatics — Synchronized Swimming

Where: Seattle Synchronized Swim Team in Kirkland.

What they offer: Grab your nose plugs and practice your smile. Seattle Synchronized Swim Team offers recreational programs for beginners as well as elite competitive teams, summer camps and year-long training.

Aquatics — Water Polo

Where: Puget Sound Water Polo and Swimming, Lakewood, Tacoma

What they offer: Marco? No, Polo! Summer programs for high school boys and girls on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.


Where: Next Step Archery at The Nock Point in Mountlake Terrace.

What they offer: Participation in the national Junior Olympic Archery Development — JOAD program. Group classes (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Rec League) for kids 6-18 years of age, including home school credit courses and summer mini camps. All equipment provided for Beginners and Intermediate.


Where: Seattle Badminton Club in Kirkland

What they offer: Organized play time every day of the week. Just show up with your racket and a birdie and get in the action.

Where: Bellevue Badminton Club

What they offer: Classes, leagues and a Junior program. Be the first of your friends to sign up and then get a free racket with their new-student referral bonus.


Where: Cappy’s Boxing Gym in Seattle

What they offer: Youth boxing training for ages 8-17. Kids work on physical stamina, mental focus, and emotional management in a safe environment.


Where: Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club Junior Sprint Team at Greenlake

What they offer: A year-round Olympic flatwater canoe and kayak racing team for grades 6 through college


Where: North SeaTac BMX Day Camp

What they offer: In addition to junior riding opportunities year round, North SeaTac offers a camp that includes lunch, water, a camp T-shirt, and participation in Thursday night racing.

Where: Bikeworks, Seattle's Rainier Valley neighborhood

What they offer: Check out the Earn a Bike program — Bikeworks teaches students ages 9 to 17 bicycle repair over eight class sessions. The kids can then swap hours of community repair for their own recycled cycle. They also offer Street Burners Riding Club with free weekly rides, including BMX, bike polo, MTB, neighborhood rides and more!

Where: Track Marymoor Velodrome Association, Redmond

What they offer: The MVA Youth Cycling Program introduces participants ages 5-16 to the sport of track cycling through classes that focus on safety, skills and track cycling basics. Once kids have completed the program they have many opportunities for continued training and competitive racing at the awesome velodrome at Marymoor Park. A popular program is the Kiddie Kilo, a free entry-level racing for kids ages 2-12 in which participants race against their peers during Friday Night Racing at Marymoor Park on the first and third Friday of each month. The only requirements are a bike and helmet and parental permission.

Where: Trips for Kids, Seattle

What they offer: A nonprofit organization affiliated with Cascade Bicycle Club that provides mountain bike outings and environmental education for kids who would not otherwise have these opportunities.

Equestrian: Dressage, Eventing, Jumping

Where: Gold Creek Equestrian Center, Woodinville

What they offer: With over thirty school horses, ranging from ponies to thoroughbreds, instructors teach private and semi-private beginner or advanced lessons in dressage, and jumping. They teach both English and western styles.



Where: Rain City Fencing

What: Open since 2000, and in a state-of-the-art facility in the Overlake neighborhood of Bellevue, Rain City Fencing offers all kinds of camps and school programs for kids and adults, as well as opportunities to compete.

Where: The Fleur de Lys Fencing Club at the Loyal Heights Community Center in Seattle

What they offer: Instruction for beginning and intermediate fencers, as well as recreational opportunities and competition for advanced fencers.


What: International Handball Federation

What they offer: Training for educators as well as a free guide to Teaching Handball at School for both parents and educators.


Where: Pocock Rowing Center, Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle

What they offer: A Junior Rowing program for middle and high school students interested in rowing for fitness, fun or competition.


Seattle Viking RugbyWhere: Seattle Vikings Rugby, Bellevue

What they offer: A competitive summer youth rugby program for teens and, in partnership with Seattle RFC, programs for kids ages 3-12.


Where: Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center, Seattle

What they offer: Youth summer camps June-August for sailboarding, sailing, and multi-sport with kayaking and canoeing.


Where: Seattle Skeet & Trap Club

What they offer: A structured program for juniors and sub juniors sporting clays shooters.

Table Tennis

Where: Seattle Pacific Table Tennis Club, Bellevue

What they offer: A 4000-square foot facility housing 8 Butterfly Centrefold tables, an 18-foot ceiling, ITTF approved Gerflor flooring, and a friendly, professional environment. Recreational and competitive training.

Volleyball—Beach Volleyball, Volleyball

Where: Northwest Juniors Volleyball Club, Seattle and surrounding areas

What they offer: Teams play in a no-cut league with evaluations and team placement for grades 5-8 starting in the fall. They also offer beach volleyball in the Juniors Beach series. (And for inspiration check out the Northwest Juniors Beach Volleyball Championships at Alki Beach on August 26!)

Wrestling—Greco-Roman, Freestyle

Where: RUGWrestling

What they offer: Instruction in folkstyle wrestling with the goal of preparing elementary and middle school youth for competition at higher levels. RUG is a charter member of USA Wrestling and a member of the Western Washington Kid’s Wrestling League.

Emily Metcalfe Smith lives and writes in Edmonds, WA, and believes that toenail painting should get more credit as an athletic endeavor.

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