On Thursday, March 12 a dinner was held at the Ponitz Center at Sinclair College with over 400 people in attendance. These were directors, staff, board members and volunteers from the entire Dayton Metro YMCA’s, at their Annual Meeting, including our own Y At the Heights. Congratulations goes to Treva Couturier for receiving the much deserved “Volunteer of the Year” award from the Y At The Heights.
On Feb. 25, a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Y At The Heights was held in the gym at the Shull Road facility. Members of the staff, board of directors and community were in attendance to join in the celebration.
Before the Y At The Heights, which was formerly known as the Huber Heights YMCA, there was another YMCA in our community. Phil Browne was the first Executive Director for the YMCA Northeast Branch and served from the 1960s to 1978. That YMCA was located on 13 acres of land on Fishburg Rd., where the branch office was located down a tree laden road in a two story farm house. Next to the farm house was a small DOJO (a room or hall in which judo and other martial arts are practiced), for instruction. The summer pool was a three foot portable pool located near the farmhouse and a creek that was large enough for two swimming instructors with about 20 children per lesson. Many youth of the community were taught how to swim in the pool and creek.
The organization provided some much needed activities for the young men of Wayne Township (now Huber Heights). Programs consisted of swim classes, Jr. High Basketball, Summer Day Camp, Judo, father & son Indian Guides and father & son Trail Blazers. The Indian Guides program was to develop closer companionship between father and sons ages six to nine through the common interest in Indian Lore. Wayne Nation was made up of 21 tribes, consisting of five or more father and son teams and was sponsored by the Northeast Branch Y.M.C. A.
A 1971 article written in one of our local newspapers told about six members from the Northeast YMCA Judo Club that received 16 trophies during a three week period in Shiais (Contest) in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ball State University, Richmond and Columbus. The six Judokas were Steve Savage age 8, Jerry Savage age 9, Tony Powell age 8, Mark Pohl age 8, Mark Cochran age 8 and Mike Cochran age 10. These young men were coached by SSgt. John Powell, Black Belt Third Degree.
In 1972 the construction of a four pool complex was built under the supervision of Browne, the pool also served as the first community pool. The construction of the pool established the Huber Heights YMCA as an active operation and a swimming facility offering lessons and a competitive swimming team. During the fall, winter and spring, various adult and youth classes were offered to our community, including competitive youth and adult sports programs, these were all held in the farm house and in cooperation with the city schools.
Many youth of that time received their first jobs at the YMCA Northeast Branch, as life guards and other positions that gave them a start in the working world. Many of those youth are still among our residents and work in the community today. Some have continued their membership with the YMCA and currently serve as a member of the Board at The Y At the Heights.
Browne also served as the parks and recreation director for the city of Huber Heights and taught swim lessons to many of the young men, some have followed in his footsteps and now coach swim teams. Robert E. Spears followed Browne as the YMCA director.
Later in the 1980’s the organization could no longer meet the payments on the mortgage and filed for bankruptcy and the building was eventually torn down. The city of Huber Heights was officially formed in January 1981 and the city acquired the property site of the YMCA, and operated what then was called the Huber Heights City Pool.
In 2001, a group of city and community leaders saw the need for a new YMCA facility, and began a campaign to raise funds to build a new facility on Brandt Pike at Shull Road. After a lot of hard work and fundraising in 2005, the new YMCA opened under the direction of Joshua Sullenberger and assumed the role as management of the city pool on Fishburg Rd. After a couple years of constant repairs it was decided the city pool was beyond the cost of repairs and was closed.
Sulphur Grove Church became a partner with the Huber Heights YMCA and help to develop the new YMCA facility. In order to live out the YMCA name, Young Men’s Christian Association, the church was given the opportunity to provide worship services at the YMCA. It took months of thinking and planning on how to convert the Y gym into worship space that could be set up and torn down every Sunday morning, and with great team work, services began in October 2005.
Kettering Medical Network also chose to partner with the Huber Heights YMCA and the west end of the facility was dedicated to a dialysis center. Sinclair Community College, realizing that this would be an ideal location for a satellite college, built on the east wing of the facility. Adding both Kettering Medical and Sinclair College to the partnership has provided a great service for both young and old in our community.
In 2012 the Eichelberger Amphitheater was built on the grounds of the YMCA by the city and provides a great place for many community activities and opportunities. This is also part of the parks and recreation committee which the YMCA staff manages.
In 2013, the Huber Heights YMCA was renamed the Y At the Heights and the Kroger Aquatic Center was built by the city behind that location on Brandt Pike. The Y continues to manage the aquatic center and provide life guards and employees to run the concession. It has been a much needed and welcomed addition to the community for summer recreation.
In January of 2015, Sullenberger took a new position as Vice President of Operations at the Dayton corporate offices of the Greater Dayton YMCA’s and Tiffany Foxx, formerly Executive Director of the Xenia YMCA, became director at the Y At the Heights.
The Y At The Heights has provided wonderful opportunities for not only children but also adults in the community with programs for everyone. Their Silver Sneakers group has been highlighted on many occasions and gives our seniors a place to not only work out and keep their bodies in great shape, but is also a wonderful social group. The youth activities provide a safe and secure place for the children to play and learn sportsmanship. The Y At the Heights has become a great asset to the city of Huber Heights and will continue to grow and provide needed services to the community.
Pat Stephens is the President of the Wayne Township/Huber Heights Historical Society and can be reached at 937-974-5286.