Elm Grove YMCA’s Basketball League Is Its Biggest Program

Gabrielle Spigarelli and Lily Arno after a game in the first and second grade girls division.

WHEELING — The YMCA in Elm Grove offers a variety of programs to not only adults but youth, making it successful in its mission to serve people of all ages.

One of the youth programs that one could say stands out is the winter basketball league. The league is composed for children in kindergarten through sixth grade and it certainly is a big hit.

“We have over 635 kids,” YMCA Executive Director Adam Shinsky said. “We play on Saturdays. For kids third through sixth grade, we recommend local places bringing their own teams. We have teams from Bellaire, Shadyside, McGuffy, St. Clairsville and all that. We use real referees for third through sixth grade, and we have volunteer referees for the younger kids.

“It’s our biggest program. It’s the largest youth basketball league in the area. We use local elementary schools with our partners in education from Ohio County Schools.”

Not only is the youth basketball league the biggest program for the YMCA, it has been around since the branch’s inception.

“This is one of the programs that’s probably been going on since the Chambers branch opened down here in the ’70s,” Shinsky said, “But in the last 12 years, we have probably grown in 300-400 kids, actually.”

Shinsky said that organizers try to have eight to 10 players on each team, especially for the younger groups.

Shinsky also said the program has grown and has high numbers of participants because the YMCA in Elm Grove does many things that others do not.

“There’s really not a lot of opportunities to play organized basketball for smaller children, because you need the lower hoops and there’s just not that many places that can provide that,” Shinsky said. “The big thing that has helped over the last couple of years is we close a whole gym down on Sundays and all day, we let the teams that are in there practice.

“A lot of Ys are unable to provide practice time. With our partners with Ohio County Schools, we are able to do that.”

The basketball league sets up in November with basketball camps that run into the season. There’s also a separate camp for the kindergarteners as well as a Half Pint Hoops Camp.

The Half Pint Hoops Camp is where a local high school basketball team and its coach visit and run the clinic. That then builds into playing games into January.

YMCA Annual

Campaign to Run Feb. 8-March 9

Shinsky also mentioned that the YMCA’s annual campaign is almost in full swing.

“An annual campaign is run by every YMCA in the United States,” Shinsky said. “It’s a 30- to 45-day period where you try to seek out small donations from not only people that are involved in the Y, but people that don’t know a lot of the YMCA.”

This is the second year that the YMCA will be doing an annual report. For it’s first year the goal was to raise $12,000.

Based on several aspects, such as the YMCA’s size, donors and yearly 990 report, that amount was given to the local facility from data from the YMCA based in Chicago.

For 2019, the target amount given to raise was around $15,000.

This year, though, with membership growing, the local YMCA set its own goal at $20,000

Shinsky said development officials are focusing the campaign in three areas with general scholarship funds being the first.

“The last three years our programs have grown a large amount,” Shinsky said. “We increased our program portfolio. But with that, we’re getting a lot more people that want to do our programs, but can’t afford it. We don’t turn anybody away and we always try to have funds for the scholarship funds.”

The second area is to maintain and fix broken equipment at a rapid pace while on a tight budget.

The third area is to keep the Y for Life Program running, which is a summer mentoring program for children ages 13-15.

“We provide life skills, positive mentorship and anti-drug/alcohol lessons during the pivotal time in their lives,” Shinsky said about the program for teens.

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