Milwaukee's Happy Feet Teaches Soccer To Little Kickers

Friday, April 12, 2013

HappyFeet is a mobile clinic teaching children ages 2 to 6 the basics of soccer in the comfort of the child-care center or preschool they attend.

Like many parents, Tali Greenspon was looking for something for her 3-year-old twin boys to do that would "burn off a little energy." "They're very active, very busy," said the working mom from Clive about her sons. "I was looking for an activity for them that would be fun, but also something that wouldn't disrupt their schedules or have us running all over town to make practices." Greenspon found the perfect solution: HappyFeet.

is a mobile clinic for children ages 2 to 6 that brings the basics of soccer to the player rather than requiring the player to head to the soccer field.

The thirty-minute clinics are conducted at child-care centers and preschools by skilled coaches who use everything from nursery rhymes, songs, stories and games with a soccer ball (known in the HappyFeet world as "Bob the Bobcat") to teach the basics of the game and encourage physical activity.

HappyFeet originated in the Kansas City area in 2006 with founders Andy Barney and Scott Gaither offering mobile clinics at child-care centers and preschools in the metro. There are now more than 45 cities across the United States with a HappyFeet franchise.

HappyFeet Comes to Des Moines HappyFeet Des Moines came to the area in June 2011. Owners Dan and Hallie Wells of Milwaukee thought the metro area could use a program like HappyFeet after finding that there were few soccer programs available for younger children.

The Wellses, parents to two daughters, say it's so important to get children up and moving at every age and HappyFeet does just that.

"The program is fun, the kids love it and they are always so excited to play," said Dan Wells. "It doesn't matter how old they are, if they can walk, we get them up and moving and at the same time, they're learning how to play soccer. The kids have a blast." Wells, a former coach, goalkeeper and longtime soccer player, said HappyFeet's nine coaches each bring a unique perspective to the clinics they teach, leaving a lasting impression on the little kickers.

"We encourage kids to make mistakes," said Wells. "It builds confidence and the bravery to do something different. You're not always successful, but we always encourage kids to stick it out. That's what we"�re about." HappyFeet is currently taught at 20 schools or child-care centers in the Des Moines area with more than 300 little players participating.

Waukee's Little Wonders Hosts Soccer Clinics Emily Steele, owner and director at in Milwaukee, offers HappyFeet clinics to students at her child-care center twice a week. She said the program offers children something that often only "big kids" have the chance to do.

"One of the reasons we offered HappyFeet is because right next door there's a dance studio and some of the older girls participate in their dance programs," Steele said. "Something like HappyFeet is for the younger kids. They have so much energy and this is just fantastic for them. The kids really enjoy it and they always know what day is HappyFeet day." Wells said for now, he's sticking to mobile clinics like the ones held at Little Wonders. Ideally, he would like to be able to offer clinics and classes to players of all ages in a facility in the Milwaukee area.

For more information or to find a program in your area, go to

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