For the entirety of summer, the Morris Community YMCA has been busy in the field. From basketball and pom clinics to wrestling and finally flag football camps, the local Y has boasted a complete slate of events.
Late last week, Ken Iverson was helping put the wraps on the baseball clinic held at White Oak Elementary School that had both fields filled with kids in attendance.
“This one was over 30 kids. Most of the camps have ranged between 20 and 30 kids,” Iverson said. “I think we’ve had over 200 kids signed up for all of the camps. A lot of these kids are doing multiple camps. They get a discount if they do more than one. Some of these kids will go from one camp to the next.”
The baseball camp was one of the highlights of the summer for the Morris YMCA, which officially runs under the auspices of the Joliet Galowich YMCA.
“Kelly Dransfeldt came out the first day and gave instruction to the kids and that was nice, but we couldn’t be doing things like this if it weren’t for the volunteer help,” Iverson said. “The dads and young guys like Jake Capko, Trevor Lines and Preston Miracle and a bunch of kids who played for the high school. “Mr. (Bill) Petrick also came out earlier in the week … the volunteers have been amazing.”
Volunteers have been helping kids like 7-year old Blake Wallin, who goes to Lisbon Grade School, and 8-year-old Josh Holzhauser, who goes to White Oak Elementary.
“I like it a lot because the coaches are nice and they teach us really well,” Wallin said. “They make us do baseball things.”
Baseball fundamentals, if you will.
“I like fielding,” Holzhauser said. “They’re also helping me catch pop flies, learning to hold the ball and throw with four seams.”
On the secondary field, Mike Cummings and Capko were working with the next level of ballplayers.
“Mr. Cummings has been amazing,” Iverson said. “He’s been here every day for the baseball camp and the basketball camp.”
Volunteers like Cummings have been the backbone of the effort by the people locally as they try to get and actual YMCA built here in town.
“All of this is being done because, we were told if we want to build a building, that we needed to build programs first,” Iverson said. “Programs for young kids all the way up to seniors in high school. We’ve been told that if we have capital fund, people will support it.”
Iverson said that he’s had a hand in most of the camps this summer, while turning over the specialty camps to those with a more keen insight on the sport.
“We had 12 camps this summer. The fishing one, run by Steve Rogers, just finished up last week. We also have volleyball going on right now and next week is flag football. We’re trying to revive that from the good old-ICS days. We’re also doing a preschool camp at ICS next week. Those are the last camps of the summer.”
Iverson, Karen McLuckie (poms), Kelly Laughary (poms), Jennifer Laughary (softball), Susan Monson (teen fitness and volleyball), Brandon Valentine (wrestling and flag football), John Dergo (wrestling), Jon Lanning (wrestling), Rogers (fishing), Stephanie Chapman (cheerleading), Dransfeldt (baseball), Petrick (baseball), Andy Niewinski (flag football), Jake Paulson (flag football) and Katie Lutz (preschool sports) were instructors listed to host the various camps.
“Huge thanks to the volunteer coaches. I bet you before it’s done that we’ve had between 20-30 dads who have stuck around and helped out in some manner. We’ve had moms involved, too. Like these guys out here today (for baseball), it’s good to see people who want to help. It’s very rewarding,” Iverson said.
“The amazing thing about this to me is that a lot of these guys are giving up some of their work time to be here. Like John Dergo. He took two vacation days just to come out here and help with the wrestling camp.
“Some of the instructors we do pay. I’m not running the volleyball or the cheerleading and poms camps. We do pay those people but they’ve had to jump through a lot of hoops just to be here. They have to pass a test on child abuse, first aid, they need to know CPR and they have to pass a background check. The YMCA is very, very fussy about who they hire and who is getting close to the kids. That’s also amazing that they are willing to go through all of that to help.”
Help delivered to the kids between the ages of kindergarten through sixth grades in transition to back-to-school mode in the fall. Something Iverson said moms and dads of the campers appreciated, too.
“Most people have been very appreciative that we provide the kids something to do instead of sitting around the house,” Iverson said.