Long Beach reinforcing background checks for youth coaches

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Parents always want to know their children are in a safe environment, especially when it comes to playing sports. The City of Long Beach works to ensure that parents are comfortable by making all youth recreational sports coaches undergo a background check.

Long Beach has always had a very active youth recreation league. With hundreds of kids playing every sport from basketball to soccer, parents are thankful for the measures taken to protect their precious children.

"It just gives me a sense of comfort to know that whoever is going to be in close contact with him, he's going to be in the best hands possible," said parent Natalie Schmidt.

For many years, the city has required anyone coaching or refereeing youth sports to undergo an extensive background check. According to Wayne Ulrich, who is the league vice president, all of the checks are handled through the police department to ensure only qualified adults are working with the children.

"You're at ease when you're sitting in the stands watching your kids at practice or in the game being around somebody that you know there's no wrong doings and their background is clean," said Ulrich.

After a sexual predator slipped through the cracks more than six years ago, the league has made identification a big part of security measures. If a coach isn't wearing his badge, he can't coach.

Jeremy Aldridge's son, Aden, plays in the league. He believes it should be a requirement for anyone who is working around children to undergo a background check.

League officials hope their program can set an example and other cities will follow suit. On Tuesday, the Long Beach Mayor and Board of Aldermen plan to meet with the recreation board to ensure the league is staying on top of these background checks and badges.

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