Staff Spotlight: Michael Taylor

mtMichael Taylor is the first Sports and Fitness Director in Galowich Family YMCA history. With an impressive background in sports, Michael is sure to make a huge impact in his new position. Learn more about his career with the Y, his plans for the future and more:

When did you get involved with the Y?
I got involved with the Y about seven or eight years ago. I applied, and I didn’t even make it home before I got a call back. I started in the Sports Department [at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA].

What was your role over there?
I did sports classes, camps, refereeing—anything of that nature. Then in the Youth and Family Department, I did Kidz Zone and Summer Camp. Then I transferred back to Sports to do a little internship there, where I did equipment managing and had responsibilities other than just teaching.

Now that you’re here at Galowich, what do you have in mind for the future?
We’re building the Sports Department from the ground up. Our main thing right now is Youth Basketball. But I’d also like to add a Spring Soccer League and even bring in Flag Football. That’s a big one at Avery. I also want to start implementing morning classes for the smaller kids. From a fitness standpoint, I want to build from the classes we have now. We’re eventually going to add Insanity.

What’s your favorite sport?
Basketball’s my favorite sport. I like football a lot. Baseball’s cool when the playoffs come around, but the games are too long for me [laughter]. I like boxing.

You played basketball in college, right? Tell us about that.
I played basketball a year at JJC [Joliet Junior College] down the street [from the Galowich Family YMCA]. Then I transferred to Trinity Christian College and played ball there. I played point guard, and I played shooting guard here and there, too. We had a couple of 20-win seasons. And I finished my degree in Sports and Exercise Studies with a minor in Psychology and Coaching.

Did you play any other sports growing up?
Yeah, I played football. I played basketball, baseball, soccer…I played them all. In high school, I did basketball and track.

Do you still play basketball?
Oh yeah—I’m in a couple adult leagues. Then I play at open gyms and stuff like that, so I’m playing basketball a lot.

Bulls fan?
Definitely. I’m excited to see what Derrick does this year. People might hate this, but I like LeBron. So I’m leaning with the Cavs a little bit too.

2014 Touch-A-Truck

Around 150 community members made a pitstop at the Galowich Family YMCA on Saturday, September 13 for the Y’s 2014 edition of Touch-A-Truck. The sun was shining on a late summer day as parents and children walked through the Y’s backyard to check out vehicles from organizations such as the Joliet Fire Department, the Marine Corps, Bill Jacobs and more.

Many thanks to the YMCA staff, participants and vendors that were able to attend! To see photos from the event, click here.

“Bear Down on Bullies”

IMG_0640In an effort to educate campers about bullying, Staley Da Bear, the official mascot of the Chicago Bears, paid a visit to the Galowich Family YMCA. Staley and an emcee led an anti-bullying demonstration known as “Bear Down on Bullies”—where campers engaged in hands-on activities to learn about the importance of respect and how to deal with and prevent bullying.

Staley had quite the sense of humor, so the kids had a blast learning about the five types of bullies: Big-mouth bully, hands-on bully, butt-out bully, cyber-bully, and all-around bully.

At the end of the presentation, the campers were presented with a player-autographed “Bear Down on Bullies” banner to display within the Y.

With the beginning of the school year just around the corner, parents are encouraged to talk with their children about bullying. For more information about bullying, including tips on how you can talk with your child, please visit www.stopbullying.gov.

Campers Volunteer at Sunny Hill Nursing Home

10582907_693766350676965_6395060137579952404_oAll summer long, a group of Galowich YMCA campers has been volunteering at Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet. Twice per month, 25 campers (in grades 6-8) and four Y staffers have visited the facility to keep the residents company and have some fun along the way.

“After their first day there, they loved it,” Youth and Family Manager Lynette Soto said, with an emphasis on the word ‘loved’. “They wanted to keep going back. They were always asking me ‘Miss Lynette, when are we going back?’”

When they returned, Miss Lynette noticed the children’s social skills were thriving more than ever.

“They would go up to residents and introduce themselves,” she said. “Their confidence went through the roof. There was no coaching by the counselors or myself. They just recognized that this was serious and this was something big that they were doing.”

In late June, the campers crafted colorful banners to decorate the facility in preparation for Independence Day. Towards the end of July, they had an outdoor party that included a variety of games and some refreshments.

“Our last time there, in August, we are putting on a show for them,” Miss Lynette said. “The kids want to do a talent show. They want to do a dance. Some kids want to do some tricks they know how to do. Some kids want to sing.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” she said.

View more photos here.

My Y Memory: Michele Brown

IMG_7525In this photo, I was probably about eight-years-old, and my brother was about six. My mom signed us up for a week of day camp (like Galowich’s), where you went every day for a week. Our camp was at an actual campsite, though. We were bused from a local grade school to the campsite each day. I remember playing a lot of outdoor games, especially capture the flag. I was pretty little, so I remember being disappointed that I was captured so early in the game.

I vividly remember making a plaster of paris casts of animal footprints in the ground. I made a deer print casting. It was one of my favorite things I did that week. On the last night, we had an overnight, complete with campfire, stories, songs and s’mores.  I remember feeling very grown-up and independent when I walked around the campsite in the dark with my flashlight. I’ve always loved campfires, and I’m sure it started with that first one. My brother and I only went that one week, but I never forgot it.

I’ve sent all three of my girls to a sleep-away camp when they were younger. In two weeks, my youngest child, my 12-year-old son Josh, is going to YMCA Camp Benson for the second time. He had a great experience last year, and this year he’s old enough to do a few more things he couldn’t do last year. I hope to continue to send him in the years to come.

Michele Brown is the Membership Director for the Galowich and Smith Family YMCAs.

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