YMCA Sports: Everybody Plays, Everybody Wins!

by Kristen Hogan

Lyla & Rowdy Gaudet-2YMCA Sports emphasizes a holistic approach to developing the spiritual, mental, and physical well being of a child. The Y’s youth sports philosophy is that everybody plays, everybody wins, which allows kids to participate in a non-competitive environment that emphasizes fun, skill development, teamwork, and character development.

Y sports programs are led by volunteer coaches who help children develop their sports skills while ensuring each child has the opportunity to play. Coaches also serve as role models to emphasize the Y’s four character traits: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Millions of people around the world have been introduced to sports through the YMCA youth sports program. The YMCA has also made significant contributions in the history of sports; some of those contributions include the invention of basketball, racquetball and volleyball.

YMCA instructor, William Morgan, who thought basketball was too strenuous for businessmen, invented volleyball in the 1890s, by blending the elements of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball. He called his invention “mintonette”. In 1896, at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass., the name “volley ball” was first used to describe the back-and forth manner in which the ball flew over the net. Today, there are more than 46 million Americans who play volleyball.

Basketball was invented in December 1891, by James Naismith at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass. The school’s director, Dr. Luther Gulick had given Naismith, the YMCA’s physical education teacher, two weeks to develop an indoor winter game to challenge a class of future Y directors. Naismith used peach baskets and hung them from the bottom of the running track on the second level of the gym and then taught his new game: basketball. Not only did the Y invent basketball but also the game’s first professional team came from a Y. Today, basketball is the second most popular sport in the world.

Smith College Basketball 1904-2Racquetball was invented in 1950 at the Greenwich YMCA, in Connecticut by Y member, Joseph Sobeck. After growing tired of handball and squash he tried to think of an alternative sport. Using paddleball and platform tennis rackets as a pattern, he came up with the idea of using a new, short strung racquet similar to a platform tennis paddle to allow a greater variety of shots. Sobeck promoted the sport to nearby Ys and formed the Paddle Rackets Association. In the 1980s, racquetball became one of the fastest growing sports in the US. In the 90s there were approximately 10 million US players and 14 million players in more than 90 countries.

The Y is proud of its rich history in sports and continues to offer innovative programs for kids and for the community. Everyone plays, everyone wins, everyone who wants to play, can! The Y’s mission is to provide quality programs for all, if you or someone you know needs financial assistance to participate in YMCA sports or any other Y program, please visit the nearest Y to find out about the YMCA Scholarship Program.