Youth sports is about so many things over and above wins and losses. Several Owatonna youth baseball teams were recognized during last week's Steele County Fair for their good sportsmanship during the summer season. Each player received a ticket to a Twins game and will get a chance to parade around Target Field before the game. Players and their parents got to hear a powerful message from Matt Ratzloff, who played youth sports in Owatonna and is using the attitudes he learned then in his current battle against cancer.

Youth 1st founder Mark Arjes says, "We believe it is time to model and encourage values-based actions, creating what we call a conduct 1st environment where the focus is on the kids, competitive energies are kept in check and officials and opponents are respected." He adds, "We are placing the emphasis on how you play the game, which is ultimately more important than if you win or lose."

Arjes and the youth coaches introduced the players from the youth teams that received high rankings from game umpires during the 2017 Owatonna tournament and Little League season. The teams selected were the third-grade Rockies, fourth/fifth-grade Astros, fourth/fifth-grade Cardinals, U11A Blue, U12AA, U13A White, U14AA and U14/15A baseball teams.

Youth 1st works with the Owatonna Huskies Bullpen Club, The Walser Foundation, Federated Insurance, Jostens, Pearson, Cashwise Foods, Bennerotte & Associates and Minnesota Twins Community Fund.

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