In 1990 AAO was started as a 501 © 3 non-profit organization to mentor UA athletes off the field and to provide them opportunities to be positive role models through our youth outreach programs. In the year 1995 AAO began to expand its programming beyond the campus toward the larger NWA community. In 2001 AAO had its first home, a 3.5 acre property adjacent to the Washington County Fairgrounds. This property included a clubhouse/office building, swimming pool, sport field and covered basketball courts. In 2010 with the help of a lead gift from Pauline Whitaker AAO launched a capital campaign to fully transition itself into a regional sports mentoring center for the next generation of athletes and coaches. This was accomplished by enclosing and expanding our property into a year round youth sports center. In September of 2011 we opened the doors to the 43,000 sq. ft. AAO P. Whitaker Sports Center. Today AAO is a vibrant force within the Northwest Arkansas community that utilizes the natural attraction of sports to help young people learn what it means to live, train and play like a champion in life!
Our vision is to set the standard of excellence for competitive youth sports in Northwest Arkansas by providing first class facilities, exceptional athletic instruction, competitive play and life training for young student athletes. These sports opportunities and programs will contribute in a unique way to their development as athletes and citizens of the future.
We exist to transform lives by encouraging student athletes toward a life of physical, mental, social and spiritual excellence.
We believe Sports is one of the greatest “training grounds” for life. When the intrinsic values of sports are properly modeled and taught, kids will then have the groundwork needed to be successful in life. This is why we train the total athlete by incorporating the best skill instruction with character, faith and leadership training. After being involved in our programs the seeds will have been planted and cultivated to develop stronger players, servant leaders, and responsible young adults.
Most companies are identified by what they value. Values are what drive our decisions and set the directional course for our organization. Here are some core values we deeply believe in at AAO:
LEADERSHIP: We value the powerful leadership of a coach. Billy Graham stated, “a coach will influence more people in a year than most people do in a life-time”. Coaches serve as a trusted mentor to help navigate our young people through the land mines of adolescence. The impact of coaches and their influence on athletes will far transcended the boundaries of “playing sports”.
EXCELLENCE: We believe excellence attracts people and reflects God’s design for us. We teach young athletes to pursue excellence with a passion and to spur themselves and others to perform well in every aspect of their lives.
HARD WORK: We value hard work. We believe a strong work ethic is the foundation that must be established in young people’s lives in order for them to become their best and achieve their goals.
COMPETITION: Competition to us is not a three letter word spelled …WIN. We are not attracted to the distorted version that advocates win at any cost! We embrace competition in its truest and purest form. We teach players to view it as a reflective mirror that reveals the strengths, weaknesses and true identity of players and teams. We utilize competition as a valuable tool to motivate each player toward a life of personal excellence!
TEAMWORK: We value team sports and the lessons they teach. For many athletes their team is their extended family and it is here that they learn the values of cooperation, care and sacrifice. We believe a strong family is the cornerstone to a strong individual. Understanding teamwork helps players identify their role and improve the quality of their relationships within the family unit.
FAITH: Personal faith is a key component of people’s lives. Our organization is based upon basic Judeo-Christian values and ethics. At AAO we believe in the importance of defining what you believe and making a life long journey to incorporate your faith into something dynamic, personal and authentic. We hope to encourage athletes to lives of spiritual excellence and moral integrity.
*AAO is not affiliated with any church or denomination. Our programs are open to all people of all faiths. We do not tolerate the degradation of any religion. We do not allow the promotion of any specific church or denomination.
POSITIVE ATTITUDES: We believe attitude shapes the way people live. Attitudes are shaped by the circumstances of life (5%) and how we respond to these difficult circumstances and people (95%). We teach young athletes that a positive attitude is essential to overcoming the challenges of competition and life.