The Y’s Youth Sports Programs foster new friendships, teaches kids the importance of teamwork and provides youth with fun physical activity. Spearheading the C.W. Avery Family YMCA’s Youth Sports Program is Sports Director Maria Romero and Sports Manager Omar Solano.
Romero started her Y career as a summer day camp counselor. At the time, her brother worked in the Y’s summer day camp program and he encouraged her to apply. For three consecutive summers, Romero continued to work part-time at the Y until she graduated college, and in 2006 she accepted the role as the Kids Zone Manager at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA. In 2011, she joined the Y’s leadership team as the C.W. Avery Family YMCA’s Sports Director.
Solano’s Y journey began similar to Romero’s. At the age of 18, he was looking for a part-time job in the Plainfield area when he noticed the C.W. Avery Family Y was hiring for its Kid Zone Program. Knowing several friends that worked at the Y, Solano decided to apply for the position. He started working as a counselor in the Y’s Kid Zone and summer day camp programs and eventually pursued a sports career at the Y. As a former high school athlete, Solano taught youth sports classes and reffed at games. In April, Solano took on the exciting role as Sports Manager at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA.
With the fall sports season in full swing, Romero and Solano are already finalizing plans for the 2019-2020 youth basketball season. The Y’s highly anticipated Youth Basketball League will kick-off in early January 2020.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Romero: I grew up in Plainfield, IL and I have been with the Y for 15 years. I have a son, Leo, and we both love spending our time at the YMCA!
Solano: I also grew up in Plainfield, IL. And, I attended Plainfield Central High School, where I played on the basketball team for four years.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
Romero: When I’m not busy working, you can find me working out and staying active playing sports, including softball. I also enjoy spending quality time with my family.
Solano: Aside from playing sports, I enjoy working out and listening to music.
Q: What inspires you?
Romero: My parents and my son–they make me want to be a better person.
Solano: Definitely my parents.
Q: What is your favorite part about working with young athletes?
Romero: It’s very rewarding to watch a child figure out a sport that’s theirs. Nothing can describe the feeling I get when I see a child discover a sport they love.
Solano: It’s cool to see the impact a sport has on a child. From making friends, to learning the fundamentals of a sport, to watching them thrive in a sport they’re passionate about—it’s awesome.
Q: What makes sports programming at the Y unique?
Romero and Solano: At the Y, we work with our athletes and their families. We want to make every young athlete’s experience enjoyable in any way possible. And, it’s important for their parents to know that they are not held to any strict obligations. We are understanding and flexible when it comes to their busy schedules. We’re here for their child(ren) to have a great time playing sports.
Q: What is your favorite sports team?
Romero: The Chicago Cubs!
Solano: I am also a Chicago Cubs fan, but I enjoy college basketball too. I am a huge Duke fan!
As a reminder, registration for the Y’s Youth Basketball Leagues is underway! Registration can be done online or in-person at your local branch. If you have questions about youth basketball leagues, youth sports programs or just want to say ‘hi’ to this athletic duo, make sure to stop by their offices the next time you are at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA. You can also email them directly at [email protected] and [email protected].