Founded by sports enthusiast and former adolescent Rick Hart, Jump Start Sports works to enrich pupils' childhoods by developing useful life skills through athletics. Qualified counselors employ their wealth of experience working with children to help campers learn teamwork and fair play as well as the fundamentals of fielding baseballs, scoring soccer goals, or synchronizing pom-pom work. A course structure built around age-appropriate activities, group play, and free electives ensures that students never get bored, and an 8:1 pupil-teacher ratio enables one-on-one assistance to young champions as they practice the graceful art of pitching or the scheming intrigue of free-agent contract negotiation.
Fairview Park Recreation Department at the Gemini Center hosts an impressive array of classes—20 each week. They take advantage of the brand new facility's amenities, holding spinning classes in dedicated cycling rooms or teaching aquatic skills in the aerobic studio. They also hold outdoor classes during summer months, taking advantage of the sunshine and green lawns. "It's great to see members push themselves and have fun while doing it," reports the Center's group-exercise coordinator.
Beyond fitness instruction, they also use the facility to host summer camps, athletic leagues, and families looking for a day at the pool. They even built a second pool, exclusively for leisure, with waterslides, a lazy river, and submerged beauty parlors.
The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
Since Basketball Stars of America was established in 2007, more than 25 of its participants have gone on to play at the Division 1 level, and more than 100 have played in college at some level. Such success is a testament to founder Daryn Freedman, who has been part of multiple NBA coaching staffs and has worked with some of the sport's biggest stars. Over the years, coach Freedman has assembled a staff of highly educated and respected coaches—many of whom formerly played in D-1 themselves and current varsity high school coaches. Together, these high-hooping all stars lead year-round developmental and competitive programs for boys and girls across Western Pennsylvania. They run boot camps, seasonal camps, and even leagues so players can show off their skills on the court or in the courtroom as part of a bold new legal strategy.