First WF YMCA Capital Project facility nears completion


WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - We are about two weeks away from the grand opening of the first new facility at the YMCA Bill Bartley Branch in Wichita Falls, the Stephens Family Gymnastics Center.

Known as the family branch, those who work with the Y said this project is all about the community it serves.

So far, a little less than $14 million has been raised for the Y's capital project, one that is for the community and made possible by the community.

Joseph Cronin has been the Gymnastics Director for the YMCA about four years.

He is dedicated to helping his students get stronger physically and mentally, so when he got a call to take on the role and help the Y grow, he jumped at the opportunity.

"They said we're working on a $14 million improvement to the Y and part of that is going to be a gymnastics program," said Cronin.

A program that will soon have a brand new facility to train young gymnasts like Presley Moore and Lenia Lange.

The two have about 18 years of training between them and are excited to be able to learn even more with the new additions.

"We have been waiting so long for this," said Presley.

"It's really nice because the facility we were in was really tiny," said Lenia.

At 12,000 square feet, this will be the largest gymnastics facility that has ever been in Wichita Falls.

Cronin said it will have safer equipment and more of it.

"We're going to have foam cube pits in here that they will be able to flip into," he said.

There are in-ground trampolines, too.

"So the children can walk onto the trampolines, and they don't fall off of them," said Cronin.

There are spotting harnesses over them so students can learn flips without having to worry about their landings and two Olympic-size spring floors.

As of Monday, finishing touches were still in the works as coaches work to get the floors ready for summer camp and opening day.

They are also preparing to train even more aspiring gymnasts.

"Right now, we have about 200 students, and with this new facility, we're going to be able to expand to double that," said Cronin.

Plus, raise the bar for those going for the gold.

"We get so many opportunities to be better," said Lange.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new gymnastics center is June 19th.  Everyone is invited out to the grand opening that will also have open playtime.

Phase One also includes an indoor soccer facility, a double court gym and child care facility.

When those are complete, Phase Two will begin which includes renovating the Y's current building.

For ways to help bring the rest of the Wichita Falls YMCA's Capital Project to life, click here.

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