Springfield College has a knack for finding itself right where big changes are happening, and this week was no exception.
Members of the college’s Y-Club traveled to Chicago on Monday, September 22 to take part in the annual YMCA all-staff meeting. This year’s conference was both a celebration of and a farewell to Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of the national YMCA. Nicoll stepped down this year after nine years at the helm of the YMCA of the USA. A committee is in place to search for his successor, which committee members hope to announce later this year.
Maggie MacDonald, a senior psychology major with minors in youth development and YMCA studies, is a member of the Y-Club who traveled to Chicago. She described the trip as a chance to not only meet other members of the YMCA, but to hear Nicoll’s hopes for the Y’s future.
“It was an amazing experience that I will never forget,” MacDonald said. “We were given so many opportunities and were not looked at as students, but as future colleagues. Not only that, but the YMCA family extended itself to us in a great way encouraging us in our future endeavors and asking if there was any way they could help us.”
The gathering, which saw the faces of over 100 members from YMCA associations across the country, was an opportunity for those involved with the Y to come together, connect, and network in order to learn about what’s going on in the different associations. MacDonald mentioned that she was also able to meet several other YMCA professionals.
Participants also took part in different meetings and attended conferences that emphasized some of the Y’s core goals, including healthy living, social responsibility, and youth development.
“They used these meetings as not only an informative platform, but also a time to brainstorm and build new ideas,” MacDonald said.
These three values are not just unique to members of the Y-Club at Springfield College, and are not just found within the YMCA Hall of Fame on the college’s campus. They correlate strongly with Springfield’s mission statement educating its students in spirit, mind, and body. The college was, after all, at the forefront of the Y’s early history, when it started the first Y training school back in 1885.
The Y-Club is planning to send students to North Carolina later this month, where they will attend meetings focused on Y retirees and the past, present, and future heroes of the YMCA.
Knowing Springfield’s history with the organization and the current involvement of its students, both those in the club and others with the YMCA minor, it’s not difficult to imagine that at least one of the YMCA associations’ future presidents (or future heroes) will be a Springfield alum. If the tides are turning and there’s a chance to take the lead and make a change, Springfield College students always seem to be in the right place—in spirit, mind, and body.