My first memories of the YMCA, are of attending my two younger brothers’ swim meets. At that time, I didn’t realize how important the Y would become to me in later years.
I’ve been a member of the Y for 35 years. In the early seventies, a neighbor of mine invited me to an aerobics and swim class. Fortunately, I agreed and have been a member ever since.
Shortly after joining the Y, I began playing racquetball. I was soon playing every day. I played in tournaments and in a women’s traveling league. My husband and I joined a Friday night couples’ round robin. Four people in a racquetball court is often two people too many. I recall someone going to the emergency room for stitches after a minor mishap of a racquet hitting a head, instead of the ball. Nevertheless, the fun always outweighed the risks. We proudly wore the dark bruises on our backs and legs from miss hit balls. Ceiling and kill shots, Z and lob serves, made the game challenging. I loved the fast-paced action. On those occasions, when I placed myself in perfect position, brought the racquet back and then executed exactly the shot I had planned–YES! It was hard to beat that thrill.
One of the women, whom I played racquetball with, taught me to play tennis. I enjoyed that sport during the summer months. It’s not as fast as racquetball, but great in its own way.
I also became a runner, pounding the pavement regularly with other Y members. For a few years, I participated in races nearly every weekend (during the warm months), in cities in the southern Wisconsin area. The most challenging was the annual 20-mile race from Madison to Stoughton, the Syttende Mai. I ran that race twice with other Y members; for long distances, running with a friend or friends is much easier than going solo.
The Y put me to work in two capacities. I worked for a few months at the service desk when it was located downstairs near the pool. At another time, I was the Racquetball Coordinator, which included running tournaments and organizing the challenge ladders for A, B, C and Novice class players.
While I was pregnant with my son, I swam laps in the pool. There were several other women swimming at that time, who were also expecting. We asked the life guard if there was something in the chlorinated water that was in some way contributing to our common condition. She didn’t think so but we noticed that the pool was emptied and refilled shortly thereafter. (Please note the previous sentence is written in jest--humor is good for you too.)
My husband and I took our son to swimming classes for the first time when he was between four and six months old. A few years later, a neighbor of ours made a small racquetball racquet for our son so he played the game too. We enrolled him in preschool classes where he enjoyed learning and playing with other kids.
Over the years, I have taken the Y’s Way to Fitness, yoga, pilates and power pacing classes. For whatever was ailing me, the Y always had a cure. Currently, I arrive at the Y every morning, Monday through Friday at 6:30. I swim laps three mornings and work out in the Life Center the other two.
My most cherished memories of the Y are of the people I have met. As we exercised together, we spent quality time together and bonded in a unique way.
I have much to be thankful for at the YMCA. Congratulations to the Y for 125 years of service excellence.