COLUMNISTS

Nonprofit Spotlight: YMCA connects people

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From 2000 to 2010, I was a strength and conditioning coach. I coached in the NFL down to the high school ranks. I was part of many successful teams and winning seasons, All-Pro’s to All Conference. Unfortunately, I have been part of my fair share of unsuccessful teams, losing seasons and down-right poor talent.

I have spent time with some amazing coaches, like Tony Dungy and Don Meyer. I have also spent time with some rotten coaches as well, who, quite frankly, aren’t worth mentioning by name. I have witnessed amazing games, feats of strength, mental toughness and canny coaching, as well as terrible games, poor strength, even worse determination, complete lack of mental fortitude and lousy coaching.

I have coached in great facilities all around the country, I have been on the sidelines in great stadiums, including the likes of Bryant-Denny Stadium, named after Paul “Bear” Bryant, as well as Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the other hand, I have coached and been a part of poor facilities and run-down stadiums.

We have all seen and witnessed great things in our lifetimes, but now as I work for the Y and write this column, I take a step back and think about these moments of the past — and I can’t help but think about one unifying theme: people. I have always found amazing people in all circumstances, whether I was in the “outhouse” or the “penthouse.”

Human beings are the real reason I write this column. We have been created to fellowship together and experience life together. To connect, contribute and commit to one another. This is exactly what the Y embodies, and why I and so many others love being a part of it. In a world where we see so much destruction and death, the Y is a positive place. We don’t have to look too far into our past to remember our old Y buildings and now see our new Y and Youth Development Center. What made our old Y buildings special wasn’t the brick on the building or the sweet outfits, hair or gym equipment of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. No, it has been and always will be the people. The Y is the vehicle in which healing, smiles, transformations, love, compassion, fun, competition, education and growth happen. It will always be about who helped you heal, who was there to support your transformation, who loved you, who

showed you compassion, provided a fun atmosphere, enabled you to compete, taught you life lessons and held your hand in tough times.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved at the Y. Thank you to all the former and current staff, the members, the board, the key leaders who have helped the Y grow since we opened as dorms on the campus of Northern State University in 1926. As we look ahead, let’s keep that same commitment we’ve shared to keep the Y a place for all people!