Growing up with the YMCA
Growing up and living in North Canton, the Community Building YMCA was always part of our world.
As a kid in grade school, I remember the old YMCA with its big fireplace and the old gym. It was dark and kind of scary. I remember the adults at the time using the machine that you put around your waste to vibrate the fat off your waste, and the small track above the gym. It was an old classic building.
When the new Community Building YMCA was first opened in 1970, I was in 4th grade. It had the biggest indoor Gym and swimming pool any of us had ever seen. Or, it seemed that way to a 10-year-old boy.
We all participated in Y Basketball and joined in as many activities that we had time for.
As we reached High School, the weight room at the Y was our only place for the football players and other athletes to lift and work out. We had 2 lifting benches with only a few large weights that we had to keep moving from one bench to another so two people could lift at the same time.
We had a “Universal” machine!! All you had to do is put a pin in the weights you wanted to lift. No one else at that time had that kind of technology in a weight room. WOW!
We had to show some of the older folks how to use it.
The Y was the place to hang out every Friday & Saturday night. We could hang out with our friends by playing basketball, swimming, lifting, playing racquetball, even boxing. We could go upstairs and play ping-pong, foosball, (Our video games of the time). I remember how excited everyone was when the Y got an air hockey table. Everyone wanted to play that.
My wife, Lauri, was part of the youth “Leadership Club”. This was a club that helped oversee and guide some of the younger children who came to the YMCA.
After the Y closed at 10pm everyone walked down to Burger Chef (Now El Rincon) where we hoped to flirt with the ladies and bum a few fries off some friends before our parents picked us up.
The YMCA was the perfect place for our parents to drop us off. We played, we socialized, and, yes, we got into trouble, mostly by being ornery or trying to show off. We even got into fights during some of the competitive games. But if you were going to get into trouble, the YMCA was the best place to get in trouble.
When we became parents Lauri and I took our kids Sam, Anna & Joe to the Y as an outlet to get out of the house and get our kids involved in sports. Mr. Puddles in the pool was one of our kid’s early favorites.
As our kids grew, we all participated in different classes. The Y Ball basketball league seemed to go on for a decade. I think we have every shirt color in the book with North Canton Y Ball on it.
We really got to meet and know a lot of life long friends during those times.
Now all of us continue to use the Y as an exercise outlet with all it’s state of the art fitness machines and classes to stay in shape and to stay connected to friends around the community.
The Community Building YMCA has done so much to bring our community together over the years. Hosting pancake breakfasts, concerts, sporting events, classes for all ages, community races and a place for the community to get together. The past staff employees and Board members should be highly commended for creating and maintaining one of the wonderful jewels of our City.
We are truly blessed to have for 90 years this wonder place.
Happy Birthday to the North Canton Community YMCA of the past and we look forward to many more wonderful years of community fellowship with the YMCA in the future.
Congratulation to all the YMCA Staff and Volunteers.
Mark R. Cerreta