March Madness is underway! When it comes to basketball, few can match the passion of Galowich Family YMCA member Roger Powell.
Powell, who played basketball at Illinois State and was inducted into the Redbirds Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998, first became a member of the Y at the Ottawa Street location in downtown Joliet more than 50 years ago. And, to this day, he can still be found patrolling the courts in the Galowich gymnasium.
“Some of the younger guys ask me to play with them. I might not be able to go as fast, but if I get past halfcourt, they are in trouble. All I’ve got to do is get past half court and I can make my moves,” he said.
Powell, 68, said his daily routine is what keeps him feeling young and healthy.
“The early bird catches the worm, so I get up at 5:30 in the morning and I’ll get to the Y by 6,” he said. “I’ll shoot hoops and then I’ll do 500 sit-ups. Not 5, not 50, 500. I do some upper body lifting before I get on the bike for 5 or 6 miles. When I get done with that, I walk on the treadmill for 2 or 3 miles. That gets me to lunch time. I sit down in the lobby, have one or two coffees, and talk to people.”
Powell greets nearly every person who walks through the doors and his friendly demeanor shines in conversation, particularly when it comes to sports.
“You have to talk to people to connect and one way to talk to people is through sports. Everybody likes sports, whether it’s baseball, football, or basketball,” he said.
Recent talk has been focused on the NCAA Tournament and Powell’s son, Roger Jr., who serves as an assistant coach for the Gonzaga Bulldogs men’s basketball team.
“I told Roger that they were probably going to struggle early in the season, but as they would get closer to the NCAA tournament they would be a better team. That’s what has happened,” Powell Sr. said. “When they played St. Mary’s for the first time they got beat, then when they played St. Mary’s in the conference tournament they won by almost 30.”
Powell watched the Bulldogs opening weekend wins over Grand Canyon University and TCU and said that seeing his son coach is always a rewarding experience.
“I used to bring Roger to the Y when he was little. I know he works hard at everything he does,” Powell said. “I really think he’s going to get a head coaching job soon.”
And, even if a national title eludes the Bulldogs this season, Powell said nothing will stop him from coming into the Y with a positive attitude.
“I’m a dedicated man and I’m a blessed man. I’m strong and I feel good. That’s the important thing,” he said.