At the Y, members are always encouraged to follow their passions and maintain healthy lifestyles. For Smith Family YMCA member Lennell Pierce Sr., that passion has been basketball.
“I always had the drive to come here. As a child you come just to have fun and play. As you get older, you start realizing how important it is for your health,” Pierce said.
Pierce, who recently turned 58, is a native of Joliet and a two-time gold medalist in basketball at the Illinois Senior Olympics.
“I’m a self motivator. I’ll get up early in the morning. Sometimes I’ll play with my cousins when we get off of work. It’s all about the love of the game,” he said.
Pierce’s Y experience began while playing pickup basketball as a teenager. As the years went on, he brought all four of his children (Tiana, LeAaron, Lennell Jr. and Jarvis) to the Y to play basketball, and now he continues to practice and workout whenever he gets the chance.
“I choose the Y because it’s a family oriented atmosphere. My kids all grew up playing here,” he said. “When you come here you meet people from all walks of life and everyone is friendly.”
Pierce said he was offered a spot to play competitively for the J-Town Ballers by a friend four years ago. Since then, state titles have given him the opportunity to compete in the national finals in 2017 and again in 2019.
“I’ve gotten to meet people from all over the country, and to be blessed with that is just awesome,” Pierce said.
And whether it’s through a friendly conversation, or providing a tip to some younger players in the gym, Pierce said he still enjoys the simple everyday interactions at the Y.
“I’m a people person and when I come to the Y, I’m always guaranteed to be able to talk to people. It’s a blessing. It’s all about kindness and I love doing it,” he said.
The Y would like to thank Lennell for being a loyal Y member and congratulates him on his accomplishments.
The Y is more than just a place to work out; more than a place where families can spend time together; more than a place to learn to swim; more than a place for kids to play sports; and more than a place for seniors to stay young at heart. The Y is all those things and more. The Y is a place where you belong! If you would like to sign up for a YMCA membership, click here.