“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Will Rogers


YMCA Member and Vietnam War Vet, Alan’s Story Continued…


Vietnam Veteran and YMCA member, Alan’s Wellness Center work-out discipline built his strength and endurance over the summer of 2017. He said he felt less tired and more alert. These benefits paid off in the functional fitness he needed every day and also for a very special event. On September 30, 2017, Alan joined 39 other veterans on the Leatherstocking Honor Flight from Albany, NY to Washington, DC. Al, a vet friend of his and Honor Flight volunteer, accompanied him. Alan said it was “really something!” A throng of well-wishers and a high school band met them before their 6 a.m. commercial flight. The Southwest Airlines pilot personally expressed his thanks to Alan as he boarded. Alan was quite taken by the reception they received in Washington. Police escorted their 2 buses to the Veteran’s monuments. He said, “It was there we visited the memorials and greeted other vets already there… what comradeship!”


Alan particularly noticed the active duty service personnel who treated them with such respect. He was around the same age when he enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War. Nineteen-year-old Alan traded his job of cleaning out boxcars for an Infantry Medic position. After his basic training in Fort Lewis and 3 more months of training at Fort Sam Houston, he was deployed to Vietnam. He served one year and one day there. He said the guys from his unit bonded together during the ten and a half months he spent just below the DMZ. Alan went on ten to twelve missions. He said they were pinned down by serious artillery on one mission. They young soldiers saw things they never wanted to see, life and death moments that left them “shell-shocked.”  Each one processed their combat experiences differently. Some disengaged and never recovered. Alan said his return from the war was “dark on dark.” Prior to serving, he had alcohol use issues. While in Vietnam, Alan began a struggle with drug addiction that escalated once he got back home. In a desperate moment, he cried out, “God, if you are real, I need your help!” After that prayer, drugs no longer worked for him. He asked his parents forgiveness for all he put them through and headed to Bible School. Then he went on to Teen Challenge and became a male counselor. His next job took him to Everett, Washington to work with troubled runaways. He spent the rest of his working years supervising in sheltered workshops and group homes.


Alan was ordained as an Assembly of God minister in 1983. He acknowledges God’s hand on his life. He joined the Army before his daft number came up. In fact, his number would not have been drawn. He considers this a blessing because without this detour, he would not have met his life partner, the love of his life, Sharon. Alan has worked through his war scars…the last was fireworks. A few years he was finally able to sit through fireworks at a B Met’s game. He finds camaraderie in attending monthly Veterans breakfasts at the Blue Dolphin. As an ordained minister, he has been given the privilege of saying the opening prayer. He recognizes the need for Vets to have hope.


 Honor Flight History: Honor and Closure

A retired Air Force Captain, Earl Morse, also recognized the unique needs of veteran he served as Physician Assistant in small clinic run by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, in Springfield, Ohio. According the Honor Flight website, many of his WWII vets greatly anticipated the creation of WWII monument, due to open in May of 2004. As the months passed, Morse sadly realized none of his WWII vets visited THEIR memorial. He realized their finances, physical and mental limitations, as well the resources and lack of time of their families prevented them. Since he was also a pilot and owned a plane, he invited one of his WWII vets to fly to Washington for a day. The man wept with gratitude. He extended the offer to another hero.


Members of his 150-member aero club caught the vision. The inaugural Honor Flight took place in 2005. They filled 6 private planes and flew 12 “very happy veterans” to Washington. The pilots and sponsors provide their services at no cost. The Honor Flight program grew as others embraced the idea. Southwest Airlines became the official volunteer commercial carrier. Later, Korean and Vietnam war vets were also included in the “mission.”  Alan returned from his flight feeling honored and blessed by the experience he shared with the Leather Stocking group and other Vets he met by the monuments.

(For more info: Veteran Applications, volunteering, donations, flight schedules: https://www.honorflight.org/)


The YMCA History page cites the YMCA’s long tradition of honor and service to our military and veterans beginning with the Civil War:


*Throughout World War I, the YMCA provided morale and welfare services for the military. By war’s end, the YMCA, through the United War Work Council, had operated 1,500 canteens in the United States and France; set up 4,000 YMCA huts for recreation and religious services; and raised more than $235 million—equivalent to $4.3 billion today—for relief work.


*During World War II the YMCA, along with five other national voluntary organizations, founded the United Service Organizations for National Defense, today known as the USO.


*Active duty/family members of deployed military please check this website: http://www.ymca.net/military-outreach/


The YMCA of Broome County express our deepest gratitude for the honored service and sacrifices of our Veterans, Active Duty Military and their families, on Veteran’s Day….and every day!

Alan Vet2






A Rusty Hinge Water Exercise Success Story

Mary kept a regular exercise routine on the treadmill at her home. She experiencing enough episodes of feeling off-balanced to start using a walker. She also periodically suffered hand tremors so intense she could not hold her fork. Her concern for a serious illness, like Parkinson Disease, sent her to schedule an appointment with a neurologist. He ordered a battery of tests but found no cause for her symptoms. He suggested Mary try a water fitness class. Mary’s daughter enjoyed her workouts in the YMCA Wellness Center so much, she encouraged her mom to she checked out the pool at West Family YMCA. Mary did and decided to join, even though she had never taken a water fitness class.


Mary chose the afternoon Rusty Hinge classes twice a week. She quickly discovered the benefits of group exercise. She enjoyed the social interaction with the other members. It made her work-out more effective…and fun. She said Jennifer, the instructor, provided easy to follow instructions and was very encouraging. Within a month, Mary started noticing physical improvements. She felt her circulation and balanced improved. She said the debilitating shakes she endured were reduced so much she hardly noticed the occasional fine tremors.

Mary2 (002)

She said it is good to have a place to go and something to do after retirement. She lives far enough out that it would be easy just to stay home. Venturing out to class reminds her how much better life is with others around. She also uses her trip into town to get “out and about” to run errands. She likes her “busy days!”


Her instructor, Jennifer says, “It’s stories like Mary’s that remind me I am making a difference in people’s lives…every time a member tells how the Y has changed their lives, my heart is warmed.”

A Veteran’s Day 2017 Story

Vietnam Vet, Alan, and his wife, Sharon, joined the YMCA of Broome County around 4 months ago. Sharon underwent a hip replacement in December of 2016. She followed up with all the PT visits her insurance allowed; the huge out-of-pocket expense once the coverage ended made it impossible for her to continue. Sharon knew she needed more exercises to keep up her progress. They checked out the YMCA and another health facility when they discovered their insurance covered gym/fitness center memberships. They found an added bonus to joining the YMCA, an athletic trainer through Ascension Lourdes. The knowledgeable AT worked with hip replacement patients from their prehab in the Joint Academy, all the way through post-hab. Sharon and Alan welcomed the opportunity for Sharon to meet with the AT for an assessment and a personalized plan for her recovery. So, they joined. Sharon made steady advances after suffering for years with pain that greatly limited her mobility and quality of life.


Alan found also his niche at the YMCA. Alan suffered damage to his optic nerve years ago. Recent deterioration imposed limits on his peripheral vision and his ability to drive. He relied on Sharon for transportation; Sharon relied on him for strength and a helping hand. So, Alan met with Steve in the Wellness Center for an orientation and assessment of his needs. Then the staff developed a program for Alan that built his upper body strength and addressed his back discomfort. Alan trained in the Wellness Center while the AT, a joint specialist, targeted Sharon’s range of motion and core in one-on-one appointment in the AT’s office off the West Family Y gym. Sharon needed to regain the core strength she lost over the last few years due to her inability to work-out. Alan commented very favorable of the Wellness Center experience, “Your needs and concerns are heard.”

Vet Blog

Alan said he appreciated many features of the West Family YMCA facility, including the ease of access, no stair climbs required! He enjoyed the natural light in the Wellness Center; an added bonus for someone who must rely on the VA and tools from low vision clinics to manage his sight issues.


The greatest gains they experienced were the sense of belonging and family. YMCA staff shared the couples travel excitement; Sharon made enough strides that she and Alan were able to take a few Senior bus trips this summer. Sharon actually got off the bus and enjoyed some of the sightseeing. On prior trips, Sharon remained on the bus because her pain was too debilitating to walk any distance. A bigger celebration among their YMCA Family followed for Alan at the end of September. As a Vietnam Vet, he was selected to go on the Leather Stocking Honor Flight out of Albany. He and his friend, Al, joined 39 other WWII, Korean and Vietnam War Vets from Upstate NY on a tour the War Monuments in Washington D.C. (Thanks to the Y, Alan traveled with the confidence Sharon could handle things without him for a day!)


(This story continue in Vietnam Vet Story: Part 2 Veteran’s Day 2017)


So, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month again. I was 53 years old when I was diagnosed. I started treatment in October of 2013. The outpouring of national and local “pink ribbon” awareness positively overwhelmed me! The following year I was completing chemo and wanted to ignore every reminder of “pink”. In 2015, seeing pink on NHL ice rinks and NFL fields filled my heart with gratitude. Last year, my son’s Binghamton Junior Senators Hockey Team honored me at a game for the funds we raised for Traci’s Hope. (Traci was my friend, a fellow hockey mom and mother to three young boys when she was diagnosed with 3b breast cancer at 31. She passed away in early October 2006 at 38 years old, but not before starting Traci’s Hope. Traci formed the not-for-profit to celebrate the hope she found in outliving her 5 year, 3% chance of survival and the tremendous community support she and her family received. Tracie’s legacy of caring continues through funds and practical assistance it provides for other women and men in our area fighting breast cancer.) Spending time with Traci’s parents made that night more beautiful.



October brings awareness!  My doctors had years of my routine mammograms for comparisons when they called me back for more testing. My stage 2 cancer was discovered while very treatable. Sadly, survivorship for younger women and men is often reduced. They ignore symptoms. They think they are too young to “get” cancer. By the time they are diagnosed, the cancer has often progressed to a less-treatable stage. My message to you is: please, perform self-breast exams. Don’t ignore changes or concerns.



I’ve learned so much in these last four years:



*If I had to do it all again (and I pray I never will), I would not concern myself with maintaining the “sturdy girl image. Many days, I soldiered through and was in bed at 4:00. I would definitely take more time for myself


*Get a second opinion. I resisted getting a second opinion. I’m from Buffalo, home of Roswell Park, a world-renowned cancer institute. My father constantly asked me why I wasn’t going there. To give him peace of mind, I went and ended up getting some peace of mind for myself. This amazing place would not have done anything different; my treatment here was second to none!



*Cancer is not contagious but it affects the whole family.


My 13-year-old son was my rock. He didn’t give a second thought to our new normal. He fashioned a “sling” that allowed air to get to my radiation burns and promote healing. My daughter’s new normal brought different challenges. She spent her senior year living with family members in Buffalo. She attended a private high school there that prepared her to compete in the crazy world of woman’s collegiate hockey. At the same time, she found it very hard to be away from me. Her Aunt Wendy and Uncle Fred’s ended up being the best place for her. My sturdy girl is currently in her senior year of college, playing Division 1 Hockey and going into a graduate program in Physical Therapy!



*Support for Families: Support doesn’t just ask what and how to help, IT DOES!

My work family gave me a pink breast cancer bag filled with goodies every time I left for chemo. We called it “Tuesdays with Margaret.”  They provided dinner for my family at least once a week. They “adopted” my children for Christmas that year.  They didn’t just ask, “What can we do?”  They just did.  I am forever grateful for their support.



*Join the YMCA Livestrong Program: I know I’m fortunate, I know I’m blessed. I came out on the other side a survivor. I just had my 6-month scans and have been declared “clear” for another 6 months. These appointments invoke anxiety but the results are very comforting! I am LIVING STRONG and so grateful for this YMCA program. I highly recommend it for anyone living this journey. I’m committed to wellness! Cancer only made me a tougher, stronger, survivor…a real “sturdy girl,” LIVESTRONG helped get me there and my YMCA workouts are keeping me sturdy.

breat cancer game 10.16 Mets at Orioles

Part 1

On September 16, 2013, I received the phone call no one would want. It started me on a journey no one would choose. It made me a member of a club no one would join. A calm, soothing voice delivered these core-shaking words, “you have cancer.”   Many other words followed. I didn’t really hear them. All I could think was my 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. My parents. My siblings. How was I going to tell them?  Then my thoughts rushed back to the caller. The poor man – I wonder how many times he’d made this dreadful phone call.


My nagging gut feelings now made sense. After my annual mammogram, the radiologist wanted to talk to me. That had never happened, even though I experienced a few scary recalls. This time they also ordered an ultrasound and then a biopsy. And the wonderful breast care staff I knew, acted a bit different…and distant.


A whirlwind of appointments followed the call: consultation with the surgeon (Captain of “Team Margaret”), MRIs, a second biopsy, an EKG, bloodwork and a lymphoscintigraphy. Followed by “The Surgery”, just 10 days after the phone call.  The post-surgical reports measured the success: clear margins and no lymph involvement. I was blessed.


I returned to work in a week. I had a port implanted in preparation for the chemotherapy that started the first week in October. I went through 12 rounds (once a week) of really strong stuff, followed by 25 rounds (every 3 weeks) of less toxic chemo. My hair fell out after the 3rd week and was a matted mess. While we were all home for Veterans Day, my daughter said, “Don’t stress, Mom, let’s just cut it.” The two of them had way too much fun cutting that mess and shaving me bald. I cherish those memories! My kids were both amazing.


I also had 25 radiation treatments from February through the first week of March of 2014 that left me with painful burns. That year was a blur. I rarely missed a day of work. I was so determined to make it in my “new normal, I earned the title, “Sturdy Girl.”  A nurse named Katie called me frequently to check on me, answer questions, and inform me of other support in the community. She always mentioned the Livestrong program at the YMCA. I listened, thanked her and hung up. Sturdy Girl was doing just fine on her own!


In the summer of 2015, Katie called as I was putting dinner on the table. I went in another room to talk. When she asked me how I was, I completely fell apart.  I wasn’t fine. To most people, my cancer “journey” was in the rearview mirror…but not for me. She gently reminded me I hadn’t availed myself of any of the community supports. She told me it was time to take care of me. She likened it to an adult on the airplane instructed to place the oxygen mask over her own face before attending to anyone else. This time I wrote down all the resources she mentioned, including the number for Livestrong. When I finally called, I was told they would be starting a class in October. They added me to the list.  In the meantime, I attended other survivor events.


During the Livestrong in-take I was introduced to our group leader; I liked him right away. I met the other members of the class, 4 women and a man, during orientation. We talked about why we chose Livestrong. Though our stories differed, we were a supportive group. We met twice a week for 12 weeks. We usually started out in the Wellness Center. We made each other laugh through our workouts. At the end of each session, we went into the Land Aerobics room to stretch. That’s where we really got to know each other. We talked about our journeys and comforted each other.  We just GOT it.


Every day reminds me of where I have been. I also have many “what if” moments. We talked about them in our Livestrong. It felt so good to know I wasn’t alone. I never missed a session and didn’t want it to end. So, after it was over, I joined the Y. I enjoy seeing some from my Livestrong group while I am there.



As part of my  new normal, “taking care of me” decision, I now participate in as many YMCA classes as possible after work. The long-term maintenance drug I take for another year and a half causes side effects. I found the YMCA water fitness classes less stressful on my back (one of the side effects). The instructors are so great and the class members are always fun and welcoming.

Me & my kiddos

The Core Freestyle Land Wellness class held on Monday and Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at West offers an intensive advanced level workout focusing on building core strength, endurance and flexibility.


Jen, the instructor, provided a warm, engaging environment for the 10 members attending on September 20th. As the regulars arrived, they grabbed a mat, a right-sized stability ball based on their leg length/body composition and a base. Then they set up their equipment on the hardwood floor. Jen assisted newer participants in situating their mats to maximize comfort and safety.


Jen took the class through a warm-up with low tempo music playing. She demonstrated proper alignment while seated on the stability ball, including keeping one’s chin down. While gently bouncing on the stability ball, she cued for foot positioning on the floor in front of the ball. She smiled as she reminded everyone of the law of physics, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Once everyone mastered that, Jen walked the group through a series of stretches in a standing position, including the basic tree, one with arms overhead rounded in a circle, one foot planted on the ground, while the toe on the other touches the floor as the plantar fascia of the other foot rests on the inside of the calf. Jen continued her instruction in clear, concise cues through the entire class as she introduced each new piece of equipment, including bands and small weighted balls. She transitioned through various modes, combining sitting, standing and the most intense, a supine body position, with the employment of one or more pieces of equipment to enhance and vary the intensity of the workout. The last few minutes of supine floor work provided the most challenging core work.


One longtime class participant described Jen as “charming.” Jen’s engaging style of instruction provided a deeper connect than just an exercise routine. The hour session also included a few anticipated features unique to her class. Each week Jen brings dahlias cut from her garden to share with one class member. Since all the regulars had been recipients of the flowers, the blogger was given the lovely bouquet. Jen also throws out “The Question of the Day,” to stimulate a bit of pondering and just enough social interaction to break the monotonous moments. That evening she asked, “What are you doing on the first day of fall?”


Jen’s Freestyle Core members include participants from the introduction of the class several years ago and first timers. They collectively shared how much they loved the class and were pleased with the results. They mentioned how much stronger they felt, improvements in their balance, stamina and core strength. One member, an avid golfer, said she can hit the ball farther. Another said her desk job left her very sedentary. Once she started attending the class regularly, she noticed she had new energy…enough to rake leaves for an hour and a half. The first-timer to the class was ready to return for more.



The YMCA of Broome County offers many choices of both Land Wellness and Water Fitness Classes at both our locations. Each instructor brings a unique teaching style to class. The variety creates many options and opportunities for members to find classes that fit their wellness and fitness goals!



 There is a list of basic life skills all parents instinctively know they must teach their children to keep them safe and healthy. It includes habits like looking both ways before you cross the street, washing your hands with soap and water and eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables every day.


For too many parents, safety in and around water is not on the list; and that’s something we need to change.


Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years old.


As part of the program, the YMCA of Broome County will provide 10 scholarships to children from low-income and undeserved communities to participate in free water safety lessons. The lessons teach young people valuable skills like what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, a situation every child should be equipped to handle.


These classes are just one of the many swim programs that millions of people from toddlers to adults take advantage of at the Y’s more than 2,000 pools across the country. Here in Broome County the Y teaches hundreds of children water safety and swimming each year. Through Safety Around Water, the Y hopes to further bridge cultural and access gaps that can prevent some children from learning important water safety skills.

If children know how to stay safe in and around water, swimming can be a lifelong source of fun and exercise. Instead of keeping your children away from water, help them learn fundamental water safety skills by enrolling them in lessons. These classes can provide them a new, exciting way to keep active and meet new friends.

To read more about how the Y’s swim lessons helped a young boy save his younger bother, please visit http://ymcabroome.org/blog-2/page/7/

To learn more about the Y’s Safety Around Water program, please visit www.ymca.net/watersafety or http://ymcabroome.org/safety-around-water/

Sign-up for Free Safety Around Water Class for K-6 Grade. The Safety Around Water program starts on Wednesday, October 4th

In Binghamton: 3:30-4:15 p.m.



Kim and her family relocated to Broome County three years ago. After extensive research of many communities, she and her husband decided Vestal was a great fit for their family. once they settled in, Kim got caught in difficult cycle. Her bad knees impaired her ability to exercise. The lack of exercise led to a more sedentary lifestyle that exacerbated the situation. So when her neighbor invited her to a “YMCA of Broome County Bring a Friend” promotion in February 2016, Kim was “in”. She said she tried a water fitness class and loved it!


With the joiner fee waived, she decided to “Just Do It,” and became a YMCA member.  She enjoyed the YMCA water fitness classes and said the teachers were wonderful. The YMCA helped her make some of her first connections in her new community. She mentioned some special YMCA friendships. Jill, Nancy, Charlotte and Al welcomed her and helped her get acclimated to the pool routines, including the water volleyball games between classes. She also had the opportunity to meet people when she subbed at the YMCA Welcome Desk at both branches. She said she finally felt like she was becoming part of the community.

2017 - 9 - 10 Early 23rd bday celebration for Christopher - Christopher Nistico - Dinno, Kim and Christopher Nistico

Kim used her pool time to prepare for a knee replacement in November. Aubrey Hazel, the YMCA on-site Lourdes Athletic Trainer, gave her a few exercises to prepare for the upcoming surgery. She also participated in a few of Sue’s Joints in Motion Class. She knew the value of pre-hab, so she dutifully worked out one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening everyday with her UHS PT prescribed therapy. Her post-surgical therapy included 2 hours of therapy with leg lifts 4x’s day.


Kim said her world became very small and she couldn’t really go anywhere for months following the surgery. This past July, when her husband tore his hamstring, she stepped up to help and injured her lower back, dislocating the sacro iliac joints. She went to the chiropractor and found relief through his adjustments. She was finally able to return to the YMCA Rusty Hinges Water Fitness Class late this summer.


Kim is now committed to working on her flexibility, balance and building up her muscles. She wants to trade her sedentary lifestyle for a healthier life, that includes losing weight. Aubrey and the YMCA continue to support Kim in reaching these goals.


She said water exercises at the YMA are for those who hate exercising. The classes are so much fun they make you want to do them! She says that it has been a pleasure becoming part of the YMCA family!


Kim and her husband improved enough to take a once-in-a-lifetime road trip late in August. They traveled Golconda Marina in Illinois on August 21st, 2017 for an awesome view of the solar eclipse in totality!

August 21, 2017 - Total Solar Eclipse - Golconda Marine Recreational Area, Golconda, Illinois - TOTALITY

August 21, 2017 – Total Solar Eclipse – Golconda Marine Recreational Area, Golconda, Illinois – TOTALITY



Prevention is better than cure! (Dutch Proverb)

The National Council on Aging first designated the first day of Fall as Fall Awareness Day back in 2008. September 22, 2017 marks this year’s Fall Awareness Day. According to CDC (Center of Disease Control), one-fourth of all Americans 65 years and older will experience a fall each year. Falls lead in the cause of death and injury for senior adults. Each 11 seconds, a senior will seek emergency room care for a fall. Even more sobering, every 19 seconds, an older person will die from injuries sustained in a fall.

The YMCA of Broome is committed to helping minimizing the risk of falls in our community through this year’s Fall Awareness Day information and programs/classes offered through the year.

Sue Stella, YMCA of Broome Moving For Better Balance Instructor, says: Falls are NOT part of normal aging and are PREVENTABLE! These preventable factors contribute to falls:
* High Blood Pressure-Have it checked and keep it under control
* Medications-Check with your pharmacist to see if any medications cause dizziness.
* Keep your rooms lighted. Make sure you have night lights in bathrooms or areas you may have to walk in the night.
* Area rugs/mats and extension cords around your home are a tripping hazard. Remove them!
Plus, these suggested by the CDC and the NCOA (National Council on Aging) and Steadi Initiative through the CDC for monitoring or prevention:
*Vitamin D Levels
*Additional Safety Devices, such as grab bars and shower seats
*Communicating with your physician about unsteadiness, falls or fear of falls

Sue also mentioned enrolling in the MOVING FOR BETTER BALANCE Class to:
*Improve your balance
*Reduce your risk of falling
*Gain independence
*Increase your confidence

Tues/Thurs 11-12:00

There are still a few openings. Since the classes each build on the prior ones, it is important to start by the second week. There will be future classes. Sign up at the Welcome desk.

Yoga, Core Stability, Pilates and Aqua Pilates are just a few of the additional classes offered year-round at the YMCA Broome that improve core strength, muscle stability, posture and balance.

The YMCA also has a Lourdes Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) on-site who is available to work one-on-one with YMCA members to help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls through a personalized execise plan. Please stop at the Welcome Desk for more info.

You can also ask a Wellness Instructor for any assistance or guidance you made need in the Fitness Center at both YMCA branches, especially when working on balance exercises!

Another option for more personalized plans to meet your specific wellness goals are YMCA personal trainers. PT’s work with members at flexible and mutually-agreed upon times. There is an additional fee for this beneficial one-on-one service.


The Monday Night YMCA Recreational Sand Volleyball League held play-offs on Monday, August 14 in Otsiningo Park. The 16 teams were narrowed to a seeding of 6. Each team required 2 males and 2 females on their roster. The 6 Lost Doggers and 6 Airborners won their team a place in the championship match of the evening. Each defeated 2 other teams in side-by-side games played on adjacent sand courts. Due to the great turn-out this summer, some of the teams had not played one another during the regular season. So when the two finalists took their places on opposite sides of the net, they were meeting for the first time. Everyone, including Caleb, the ref, commented that the teams seemed pretty evenly matched based on their records. The Airborners took the first set; the Lost Doggers took the second. The third set ended without a winner. So they faced off in a 15 point win-all match, as the sun dropped behind a mountain. Not sure anyone could have predicted how similar their abilities were until they tied the score at 14-14! After 4 rounds of play, both the teams and daylight were equally worn down as night crept across the court. The Lost Dogs spiked one last volley over the net that landed unanswered in the dark shadows on the other side. The Lost Doggers and the Airborners consoled and congratulated with traditional team lines and handslaps, followed up with a very sincere,”Good game.”

The Lost Doggers’ 3 males and 3 females, celebrated with a few quick high 5’s, back pats and victory shouts. They stuck around long enough for a team photo and to introduce themselves. They also noted 2 of their members were seniors. One senior, Emmie, played for her first time on the Lost Dogs. But definitely not for the first time ever; she earned her share of “Rufios” for her spikes. Emmie is a member of the UE class of 2018 and Varsity Volleyball Team. Jamie, the other senior, has played on the Lost Dog team since it began more than 20 years ago. He is the only original player left. Let it be just be said, he gained his senior status by qualifying for AARP. (One or two additional team members are not far behind in years or time on the team.) Despite the age span, the team excelled in reading one another, knowing one another’s strengths and anticipating the next move. They reset and regrouped when they fell behind, but never lost the joy of playing the game. 1sandvball

So the 2017 YMCA of Broome County Coed Sand Volleyball League ended another smashing season as night fell. Not just the finalists, but each participant found a great way to stay fit and have fun. Like all the YMCA Adult Sports, the evening games also offered many opportunities for social interactions that encouraged a sense of belonging and friendship. Team spirit, co-operation and other Christian values first discovered in the 1890’s through the physical education programs at YMCA Training Schools make YMCA Adult League play a good time of R&R.

Many individuals may be aware that basketball began at a such a YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891; less may know that volleyball also started at a YMCA school just a few miles away and a few years later. According to the YMCA World Challenge Website, “… in 1895, William G. Morgan, an instructor at the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts, sought to invent a game for his classes that would involve less physical contact than basketball. The result was volleyball – a mix of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball. The net that he used was 6 feet 6 inches high, just taller than the average man.” (It was first named, “Mintonette,” but renamed after Dr. Alfred T. Halstead, a spectator at the first exhibition game, suggested the name, “volley ball.”) 11sandvall

“Volleyball soon became extremely popular in the USA and, through the YMCA network, spread first to other parts of the Americas and then to other continents. By 1951 it was being played by over 50 million people in over 60 countries. In 1957 volleyball also became an Olympic sport.”

Though the Sand Volleyball league ended, please check out the YMCA Indoor Volleyball Leagues held during the fall and winter. Such a great way to stay active when the colder weather keeps you indoors.

Volleyball (indoor & sand)