The YMCA has a long history of serving communities around the world dating back to 1844. The YMCA has served millions of individuals offering programs and services to promote Christian principles. During this time many famous faces have found comfort, a place to stay, learned how to swim and played many sports!
In January a new session of swim lessons will begin at the Newton YMCA. Children throughout Jasper County will learn a life-long skill that is not only fun but could eventually save a life. These local children aren't alone. YMCAs have been providing quality swimming lessons for decades. Among those who have learned to swim at the Y are Janet Evans, who won three gold medals in the ’88 Olympics and was amateur athlete of the year for ’89; John Naber won multiple gold medals; and Mark Spitz learned to swim at the Sacramento YMCA in 1958. Greg Louganis was another who learned at the Y.
Not just Olympic athletes have learned to the breaststroke, butterfly and other skills in the pool. President Ronald Reagan learned to swim at his local YMCA and even played the drum in the YMCA band in Dixon, Ill.
On Jan. 14, the Newton YMCA's Pizza Hut Youth Basketball League, REG Lil' Pro Basketball and Mighty Mights Basketball all begin. Many famous hoopsters learned the fundamentals of the game at their YMCA. The great Wilt Chamberlain was one of those individuals. At 16, Chamberlain was on the National YMCA Championship Men's Team.
Christian Laettner and Cliff Robinson, former NBA players, were on the same Y basketball team; and Curly Neal of Harlem Globetrotter fame learned to play basketball at the YMCA. Dr. Martin Luther King, Olympic track star Jesse Owens, baseball legend Jackie Robinson and former U.N. Ambassador Rev. Andrew Young, all honed their athletic skills and built friendships on YMCA basketball courts.
But that's not where the YMCA's basketball legacy ends. All hoopsters have one YMCA in Massachusetts to thank for their beloved game. It all began at a YMCA gym with two peach baskets and a soccer ball. In 1891, at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass., Program Director Luther Gulick asked gym teacher James Naismith to invent an indoor sport to keep Y staff fit during the winter. Naismith hung two peach baskets from an elevated running track, posted thirteen simple rules and – basketball was born.
The Newton YMCA is working with the Newton Community School District to implement a new after-school program for teens at the Berg Middle School. The Y also offers after-school childcare and has a number of programs from gymnastics and dance, art classes to volleyball for children to participate in.
Many credit the Y for providing a safe place to be after-school among them heavyweight boxing champion Exxard Charles, TV host Art Linkletter, comedienne Phyllis Diller and Thurman Thomas, Hall of Fame NFL running back in the 1980s and ’90s.
Creator of many TV shows like "90210" and more Aaron Spelling said his Y was his one escape from the streets and offered him the chance to be part of something—the family of the Y. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said that the San Francisco YMCA’s Youth and Government program was an important influence in his life. Darryl Stingley, former NFL player, was a self-described “product of the YMCA system.”
The YMCA has been a part of Newton since 1874, and the first YMCA building was erected downtown in the 1920s. The current site has been the home of the YMCA since 1976. During that time many famous faces have come through the Y's doors including the Harlem Globetrotters, President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, CBS news anchor Scott Pelley, wrestling great Dan Gable, and former NBA player and member of the 1992 Championship Chicago Bulls team Bobby Hansen.
While many famous people credit the YMCA as being an integral part of their lives, the YMCA isn't for the rich and famous, the Y is for EVERYONE! The YMCA offers reasonable membership rates that include use of the Y's many ammenities and facilities, including the Cardion Fitness Center, nautilus and free weight rooms, two gymnasiums, an indoor track, two racquetball/handball courts, a 25-meter indoor heated pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam room, more than 60 fitness classes and hundreds of programs. If you'd like to learn more about the YMCA and all the Y can offer you and your family visit us at 1701 S. Eighth Ave. E. in Newton.