Social isolation is one of the most daunting epidemics facing today’s society. Thanks to smartphones, video games, and instant entertainment, people have become detached from the outside world.
At the YMCA, dozens of programs offer many opportunities to connect and engage. Teams, classes, and group activities give you an alternative to doing life on your own. Here’s a sneak peek at some ways for you or your kids to get involved:
Competitive youth swim team
Director of Competitive Swimming, Kathy Coffin-Sheard, describes the YMCA Breakers Swim Team as an opportunity for children and teens ages 6 to 18 to learn all aspects of the sport and to compete (if they so choose).
Swimmers aren’t required to compete, but are offered the opportunity to do so locally, regionally, and even nationally. The team atmosphere provides a fantastic learning opportunity—teaching respect, responsibility, honesty, and self-care. The environment also offers a way to engage children and give them a place where they belong.
“We really are like a family here,” says coach Coffin-Sheard. “It’s really fun to go to swim meets together to compete and have that camaraderie.”
Researchers are discovering that a sense of belonging is truly critical to the healthy development of young people. Twelve-year-old swimmer Ben Freundl says his experience is, “part competition, part fun. I love the friends and family part of the team.”
If your child isn’t a strong swimmer or fears the water, that’s okay! All athletes take YMCA swim lessons until they can confidently swim on the Breakers Swim Team.
Social and competitive adult sports
The team experience isn’t just for the kids. “Sports offer adults physical activity but also a social aspect that you can’t easily get elsewhere,” says Sports Director Barb Beckett. “People can either register as a full team or as an individual, and we’ll place them on a team—it really makes getting involved effortless!”
The YMCA offers traditional sports like softball, basketball, tennis, and pickleball. And more recently, the Y began offering childhood favorites like dodgeball and kickball, and other sports like futsal, soccer and flag football. More social leagues are added every season.
This fall, the Y is featuring a new social POP Tennis league. The game is fast-paced and easy to learn—tennis Director Kyle Warner says the game is a combination of tennis and pickleball. Assistant Marketing Director and co-creator of Adult Social Leagues, Jess Kalbfleisch, describes POP Tennis as, “basically a giant game of ping pong with friends. There are lots of laughs, and it’s tons of fun!”
The Y also offers a Masters Swim Team for adults who love to swim and want to do so regularly with a group of friends.
No matter your area of interest—the Y has something for everyone.
Want to get involved in a team experience at the Y? Visit gtbayymca.org for program offerings or stop by one of three locations.