How Youth Sports Culture is Affecting Our Kids | Kansas City MomCast Episode 61

In this episode of Kansas City MomCast, we are tackling youth sports culture and how it’s affecting our kids. We discuss the change in the youth sports culture over time, the potential mental health repercussions of intense competition and expectations, and what we can do as parents sitting in the stands. Discussing this topic with us are Dr. Raelene Knolla, Vice President of Population Health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, and Donease Smith, Executive Director for Administration at the Urban Youth Academy.

Not Good Enough,” the documentary that was a partnership between the Kansas City Royals and Blue Cross Blue Shield is available to stream for free by clicking here. For additional information, content, and resources, visit

Meet Donease Smith

Donease Smith is the Executive Director for Administration at the Urban Youth Academy (UYA). She has vast experience in the athletics, administration, and youth development spaces – most recently with La Salle University as Chief of Staff for Intercollegiate Athletics where she helped transform internal operations within the department. Prior to joining La Salle University, Donease served in dual roles at the University of Kansas as the Assistant Athletic Director for Team Operations for Olympic Sports and the Director of Basketball Operations for Women’s Basketball.

At KU, she helped to create a Women’s Mentorship Program – providing female employees a space to learn from, engage and support one another. Previously, Donease worked in Basketball Operations at the University of Memphis, Kansas State University and the Detroit Shock in the WNBA. She also spent time as a high school teacher and coach in the Kansas City area.

At the UYA, Donease will provide leadership, direction and support for the UYA and will be responsible for ensuring operational excellence and implementing the vision, mission and strategy of the Academy. She was a three-year letter winner for the women’s basketball team at Central Missouri State University (now called the University of Central Missouri), where she was named honorable mention all-conference three-straight seasons. Donease is originally from Sedalia, Missouri where she was inducted into the Smith-Cotton High School Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.

Follow Donease on Instagram.

Meet Dr. Raelene Knolla

Dr. Raelene Knolla is the Vice President of Population Health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC). In this role, she provides leadership of the medical policy, clinical operations with our utilization and care management teams, community health, behavioral health, quality, and accreditation teams. She is responsible for providing physician advice to help manage and improve the health of Blue KC members.

Dr. Knolla also served as the Medical Director for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Kansas Medical Center.  Dr. Knolla received a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration/ Management from Rockhurst University, and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Florida State University. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Connect with Dr. Knolla on LinkedIn.

What We’re Loving In Kansas City

Sports at the J

Sarah’s family has enjoyed the low-key and love-of-the-game focus of the Jewish Community Center’s sports programs. Youth and teens are offered introductory, instructional, and competitive sports options. Whether you want a pick up game of pickleball, or an organized basketball, soccer or softball league, The J has something for everyone.

Sports Apparel and Equipment on the Thrift

Megan refuses to pay retail prices on a pair of cleats that will be worn for one season. She heads to KC Grow Co. in Olathe for all of her kids’ soccer shorts, cleats, helmets, and more. Play It Again Sports is another great option, as well as the many thrift stores we have in KC.

Connect with Megan and Sarah

podcast microphone with hosts

We would love to hear from you! Send us an e-mail or find us on Instagram or Facebook!





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Megan Coffey
Hi! I'm Megan, former teacher turned stay-at-home-but-never-home mom to Peyton, 7, and Gage, 4. I host the Kansas City MomCast podcast! I'm married to the most patient person on this earth, Chris, and we live in Overland Park with our kids, an insane lab, and two guinea pigs. You can find me over committing to everything, reading informational and self-help texts, listening to podcasts, organizing, spending time with friends over margaritas, thrifting, and staying up way too late to have peace and serenity. I love people and hearing their stories and look forward to connecting with KCMC readers!


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