The Canby Kids Are Alright:

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By Tyler Francke, Contributing Writer

Almost every story about success a Canby High School team or athlete has experienced at the state level is also a story about Canby Kids. Canby Kids Inc., is the local, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to providing youth recreational and competitive team sports opportunities for children in and around the Canby area on a year-round basis.

Canby Kids’ main purpose is to provide a healthy, safe, and fun outlet for local kids and families — not to create championship teams at the high school level. But it certainly doesn’t hurt the latter by instilling such values as teamwork, dedication, and sportsmanship in local athletes at young ages.

“It’s been a while since I’ve coached, but I always told my kids, ‘It’s not about winning and losing,” says longtime Canby Kids President Shantel Rapp Harney. “It’s about lifelong friendships. It’s about being a good teammate and developing good habits for being an adult.”

Founded in 1975, and built up over the years by a number of outstanding community leaders, including Wayne Oliver and Shantel’s father, Bob Rapp, a former mayor and city councilor who was known as Mr. Softball for his lifelong support of that sport, Canby Kids has helped multiple generations fill the gaps that other area institutions and organizations failed to fill.

“I was born and raised here in Canby. I was an original Canby kid,” Shantel says with a laugh. “The founders of it, they just saw a need for sports programs in town. It was started to build relationships with the City of Canby and the Canby School District to create places for our kids to play sports. And it works great. We have great relationships with the city and school district, and it’s been very successful.”

You can say that again. Currently, Canby Kids serves more than 1,100 youth athletes across five distinct sports, which all do their own fundraising and are steered by their own volunteer boards: Canby Cougar Football, Canby Junior Baseball, Canby Rebel Softball, Canby United Soccer, and Canby Lacrosse. It takes over 500 volunteer parents, coaches, and supporters to make things operate smoothly, all working in partnership with the Canby School District, the business community, and local government to provide competition in the five sports, each in leagues of their choosing. Over the years, many teams have won league and even state championships in their respective sports and age brackets.

The nonprofit also offers the Canby Kids Scholarship Fund for families in need of financial support to participate in athletics, and operates the highly successful Pass It On, Canby!, a recycling program that distributes clean, gently-used youth sports gear and equipment to deserving young athletes. Being a small, volunteer-run organization, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canby Kids particularly hard. But its dedicated network of parents, coaches, volunteers, and supporters fought hard to bring youth sports back and keep alive Canby Kids’ remarkable, nearly 50-year-long legacy.

“You know, you often don’t know what you have until you don’t have it, and I think we really missed a lot during those years,” Shantel says. “It just showed: Kids need something, whether it be sports, music or dance. Kids need outlets. They need to be able to be kids. I don’t know what I would have done without sports as a kid.”

But fortunately, for the community and the more than 1,000 local youth athletes who take advantage of its programs each year, Canby Kids is back and better than ever. “We’re proud Canby has been able to support sports for as long as we have thanks to the support of the community,” Shantel says. “We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good folks put in the time over the years to keep it going.”

For more information about Canby Kids, visit, email or call 503-266-KIDS (5437). Or visit Canby Kids and Pass It On’s headquarters in the basement of Ultimate Team Spirit, 248 Northwest First Avenue, Canby.