After participating in various toddler programs and youth sports, my journey at the Y took off when I discovered my love for being in the water with swim lessons at the age of five. I was an incredibly shy kid and struggled with trying new things and interacting with others so when my instructor recommended I try the swim team, I was very hesitant. Reflecting on this, I now realize the impact such a small suggestion has had on my life. I have been part of the swim team for 11 years now and each day my coaches, Matt Mongomery and Zach Cravens, encourage me to be the greatest version of myself. The version that speaks her mind, supports others, and perseveres.
The Y is like my second home. The part I love most about being part of The Y is the intimate, comforting, and encouraging environment from the moment you walk through the doors. The staff and the members make for a welcoming experience. With morning workouts, after-school practices, and teaching swim lessons I spend a lot of time at the Y. Thus, when The Y shut down this Spring, it created some anxiety for me as my days were normally centered around the Y and school. I missed the interactions with my coaches, teammates, students, and peers.
During the shutdown, I was appreciative of the staff finding opportunities to provide workouts over zoom to keep me physically active and emotionally engaged. The gradual reopening of The Y in June brought a level of normalcy back to my everyday routine. I felt safe returning to The Y as it was clear that they had worked hard to develop a safe environment for the members. The safety precautions were being adhered to while being creative with socially distanced outdoor workouts and open water swims. It was great to return to the pool once state guidelines allowed and I am thankful for The Y’s commitment to the health of members with improvements such as the new air handling system in the pool.
The Y allows me to experience a sense of belonging that I don’t have anywhere else. I want other area youth to have the same opportunities that have been afforded to me through membership at The Y.