West Cook YMCA

July 2015 CEO Message

Published 07.01.15


We're off to a fine start to what promises to be a most active summer at the West Cook YMCA.

On an early summer beautiful but cool afternoon, we held a very successful launch for our fourth season of managing and staffing the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center in Maywood. Scores of kids, families, Maywood. Village board members and community leaders enjoyed good weather, fun and fellowship at the Maywood pool. It was just too cool to open the pool for swimming so all enjoyed an afternoon in the sun with food, games and entertainment for the kids. The Maywood pool will be open for family swim, lessons and special events until Labor Day, weather permitting. Please see this link for a full schedule.

Another important swimming note is an announcement I'm very pleased to make of Joel Wallace's appointment as the West Cook YMCA's Competitive Swim Program Director. The TOPS family is pleased to welcome Joel as its Head Coach. He succeeds James Ridgeway who resigned to enter medical school this fall to pursue a career in medicine.

Joel has had a decorated life in the sport of swimming both as a coach and as an athlete. While attending Wylie E. Groves High School in Michigan, Joel had extensive success as a 15-time All-State and 12-time All-American  in swimming, in addition to being awarded 3-time All-State and 3-time All-American in water polo. Following an outstanding swimming career which included being a Junior National finalist in the 50 free and 100 free, and a member of a 400 medley relay, Joel was recruited to swim by several universities. As a scholarship athlete, he was a varsity letter-winner, as a member of the Men's Swimming and Diving teams at University of Tennessee and Oakland University in Michigan. Additionally, he qualified for the 2000 Olympic Trials at the historic IUPUI pool in Indianapolis, IN, in several events including the 50, 100 and 200 LCM free, 100 LCM butterfly and 100 LCM backstroke.

Joel began his coaching career as Birmingham Seaholm's High School in Michigan as head boys & girl’s water polo coach in 2003 and produced multiple All-Americans, All-State and All-Regional players. In 2004, he served as head summer league swim coach for the Bloomfield Surf Club in Michigan where he led the team to its best dual met record and highest league finals finish. From there, Joel joined the coaching staff of the Birmingham Blue Dolphin Swim Team in Michigan and began to help produce state champion caliber swimmers with several individual and relay state champions with an impressive back-to-back 12 & Under State Meet Team championships in 2005 and 2006.

After moving to Illinois, Joel served as the Head Coach of Riverside-Brookfield High School girls water polo, as well as the high school's Swim Lesson's Coordinator, and Head Coach of the Riverside-Brookfield Swim Club. Under his tenure, all three sections saw success. In a few years at the RB Swim Club, his swimmers were decorated in Illinois Swimming when  95% of the club records were broken, over 20 ISI Age Group State and ISI Regional Champions, over 70 ISI Age Group State and USS Zones finalists. Additionally, 17 of the swimmers on the team qualified for the IHSA State Meet.

Joel's promise attracted the Lyons Swim Club, where he became Head Masters Swim Coach, Head Age Group Swim Coach, and an Assistant Water Polo Coach. After being promoted twice within the first year of hiring, Joel impacted the Age Group and Senior (High School aged swimmers) programs being involved in the first team qualifiers for NCSA Junior Nationals, numerous new club records, Regional Champions, and State finalists. Most recently Joel has served as the Head Senior Coach for Mundelein Mustang Swim Club.  In his short term the club has seen some immediate success with an 18th place team finish at the Sr. State Championships this past winter, 9 NCSA Junior National qualifiers, and 14 club records broken.

Joel is a United States Swimming (USS) and American Swim Coaches' Association (ASCA) registered coach for several years. He is a certified in YMCA Principles of Coaching Competitive Swimming and Diving, as well as being a certified YMCA personal trainer.

Another important addition to the West Cook YMCA staff is Amy Hill, Health & Wellness Coordinator. A 2012 graduate of Central Michigan University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education, Amy completed her student teaching requirements in Australia. She returned to the U.S. to earn a Masters degree in Sports Administration from Ball State University Graduate School where she served as a Graduate Assistant of Aquatics and Fitness for the Recreation Services office. Amy joins the West Cook YMCA from Eastern Kentucky University where she has been Assistant Director of Fitness and Campus Recreation.

As the summer rolls on, in mid-July, we'll be kicking off our Summer II session that runs for five weeks until  August 16.

Registration for Preschool and Y-Kids programs is now underway. According to Elizabeth Lopez, Youth Development Director, in response to parents' requests, there's a new format for Preschool planned with three different session options: Monday, Wednesday and FridayTuesday and Thursday; and an all-week long session, Monday through Friday.

In other program news, Krystle Voegel, Director of Health and Wellness, notes that the Fall Session I begins August 31 and continues for eight weeks until October 25. In the fall, Krystle says, the focus will be on higher quality programs scheduled at convenient times for more members.

In late July, we will welcome our international visitors from Japan when a new delegation from our sister YMCA visits us again. West Cook YMCA members who participated in our previous exchanges with their Japanese counterparts will have an opportunity to greet the new delegation.

And, in no time, we'll soon be planning several special projects to continue to brighten and burnish our historic 60-year-old building during the Summer Recess scheduled for two weeks, August 17 to30.

Enjoy all the days of your summer!

Phillip Jimenez

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