Showing good sportsmanship paid big dividends for several Owatonna summer teams that got the opportunity to be recognized at Target Field before a Twins game. Youth baseball and softball teams from around the region and state got the special treatment thanks to a good conduct program run by Youth 1st of Owatonna in conjunction with the Twins Community Fund.

Owatonna teams that paraded around the warning track at Target Field included 14/15 A, 14AA, 13A White, 13A Blue, 12A and 11A Blue. Teams from many other communities and athletic associations work with Youth 1st in promoting good sportsmanship.

"We are placing the emphasis on how you play the game, which is ultimately more important than if you win or lose," said Founder/Director of Youth 1st Mark Arjes. "It has become increasingly difficult to find and retain coaches and officials for youth sports because of the abuse that they take during games."

Minnesota Twins President and CEO Dave St. Peter said, "The Minnesota Twins and Twins Community Fund are proud to partner on the Youth 1st Team Awards. Baseball and softball play a key role in the development of young people when the focus is on teaching life skills, developing values, and building character. We are thrilled that the Youth 1st Team Awards program recognizes players, coaches, and parents who model and encourage good sportsmanship and positive conduct in Twins Territory."

Supporters of Youth 1st also include Federated Insurance, Jostens, Pearson, Cash Wise, Bennerotte & Associates, Jaguar Communications, The Retrofit Companies, US Bank, Owatonna Motor Company, Profinium, and Minnesota-USA Softball.

The mission of Youth 1st is to connect conduct, character, and community to youth activity programs.