What does it take to make the YMCA of Greater Brandywine’s Sports Leagues a success? For starters, a talented team working behind the scenes to plan and organize everything that makes our leagues the best.
Here’s a closer look at the dedicated professionals who’ll be helping your kids learn and excel in our sports programs.
Cameron Baker, Regional Sports Director, Brandywine YMCA and Lionville Community YMCA
For Cameron, who began his professional relationship with the Y as a lifeguard at 15, working with the Y is truly a family affair. His father is a Y executive in Iowa.
“The Y has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” he says. That included soccer and basketball leagues and overnight camps. From lifeguarding, he went on to work as a sports attendant. After graduating from college, his Y offered him a full-time job in aquatics. Desire to advance his career led him to his current role with the YMCA of Greater Brandywine.
Among the many advantages of the Y’s sports leagues, Cameron cites the ability to learn as the most important.
“Every kid has the opportunity to develop, whether you’re picking up a basketball for the first time or you’ve been playing all your life,” he says. “Our league format and structure allows everyone to learn, regardless of what skill level they’re at. You will get better playing in our league.”
He adds, “On top of that, our coaches are trained and our curriculum reflects the values of the Y. So, you’re not only going to get better at the sport you sign up for, you’re going to mature, as well.”
Sean Oakes, Regional Sports Director, Jennersville YMCA and Kennett Area YMCA
Three years ago, Sean accepted a position as a summer sports coordinator at the Kennett Area YMCA. It was a job that capped a lifelong involvement in the YMCA in Newark, DE and led him to his calling.
“In my neighborhood, I played all the sports at the Y together with my friends,” he says. “And the families that were my coaches are still family friends of mine and my parents. I’m still connected to them and to the kids who were on those teams.”
He notes that for sports league kids and parents, the position of regional sports director offers the advantage of having a consistent message and approach from coaches throughout the association.
Taylor Wyly, Regional Sports Director, Oscar Lasko YMCA and Upper Main Line YMCA
“I’m a lifer,” says Taylor, who’s been involved with the Y since childhood and began working for the organization at the age of 18. “I did karate with the Y, it’s where I learned to swim, and I attended after school care. Now I’m working here and I don’t think I’m leaving!”
A 2015 graduate of West Chester University, she received her calling to work with kids after coaching a 10-year-old girl in an introductory field hockey clinic.
“She came up and said, ‘Coach Taylor, I’m in field hockey in elementary school and I love it!’ The fact that she’d continued in field hockey and almost contributed her success at it to me was awesome. Knowing I can help the kids is what stuck,” she says.
Improvements to the program Taylor says to expect this year include improved coach training and improved balance of team skill levels.
DaTwan Bolden, Lead Sports Associate, Upper Main Line YMCA
Working at the Brandywine YMCA after graduating from high school, Coatesville native DaTwan fell in love with sports as a career. That’s not really a surprise, as he’d already developed a love for sports when he was a member at the branch as a child.
“Being there for practices and having an impact on a child’s life, that really interested me,” he says.
That love led him to work with the Y in Philadelphia during his time at Temple University, where he earned a degree in sports and recreation management. After working as a site director for the Phoenixville Y, he knew he wanted to get back to working with kids in sports.
"Working with kids, that’s my passion,” he says. “I love having fun with them, I love bettering their lives and being a positive role model. The YMCA has given me that opportunity, and I just love it.”
Victoria Burton, Lead Sports Associate, Kennett Area YMCA
Victoria’s path has, in many ways, paralleled that of Sean Oaks (Regional Sports Director for the Jennersville and Kennett Area YMCAs) – both are University of Delaware graduates; both grew up in Newark and Hockessin, DE; and both were members of the Kirkwood Highway Y.
Having that early experience with the Y “started my entire family with the sports world,” she says. “We’ve been playing sports since we started when I was four or five and never stopped.”
Her professional career with the Y started during an internship at the Glasgow YMCA while she also pursued a degree in behavior science.
“I was kind of lost the first few weeks, and then the youth sports director said, ‘Oh, come help us out.’ And then it just all fell into place. I found what I loved doing.”
Al Williams, Lead Sport Associate, Brandywine YMCA
Al has been connected to the YMCA for most of his life. As a 12-year-old in Norristown, he credits much of his growth and development to the swimming and weightlifting he learned at the YMCA there. While in college at West Chester University, he joined the Oscar Lasko Branch, and later, the Rocky Run branch in Media. “It seems like everywhere I moved, I have to find a YMCA,” he jokes.
Once he retired from coaching at the Glen Mills Schools, he relocated to the Coatesville area and joined the Brandywine YMCA; and then this past February, he signed on to serve as the lead sports associate there.
His coaching approach, honed while coaching five sports at Glen Mills, focuses on keeping kids engaged through fun. “You have to enjoy this. It can’t be drudgery all the time. You’ve got to have fun,” he says. “That goes for all sports, especially when you’re at the ages of our kids. Otherwise it will get old quick. I want kids learning the sport and hopefully liking it enough to come back next season.”