By YVETTE C. HAMMETT
As local dignitaries and YMCA officials cut a ribbon declaring the new Spurlino Family YMCA officially open, the silhouettes of those practicing yoga were visible from a wide second-floor window of the new facility.
Inside, hundreds gathered last week to check out the new aquatic facilities, workout rooms, children’s play area and more. After 10 years of planning and fundraising, Hillsborough County has its first new family YMCA in 15 years.
Already, more than 1,000 families have signed up for membership. Among those is Tina Martinez and her daughter Christina Martinez.
“I just joined Saturday, and I’ve been here now for five days in a row,” Tina said from her perch on an exercise bike. “I love it so far.”
Christina joined her mom to exercise. “I like how you can take classes here, and I like the lap pool and the good variety of machines they have.”
Kelly and Walter Wilbon also joined, with Kelly taking the first-ever U-Jam class, a sort of high energy hip-hop exercise class. “There were 40 or 50 at the first class, and I loved it,” she said. “I want to ask them if they can do that one more than once a week.”
Walter said he’s happy with the fact that the Y is a family-friendly gym and social gathering place where the couple’s three children, ages 8, 10 and 16, can find fun activities in which they will want to participate.
The family had been going to a $10-a-month gym, but the younger kids couldn’t go. For not much more, Walter said, the whole family is now involved.
The new Y is a public-private partnership between Hillsborough County, the Y and several major donors, including the Spurlino family. The $16.5 million indoor and outdoor recreation facility is built on 32 acres at Big Bend Road and I-75 on county-owned property.
“I was raised here in southern Hillsborough and graduated from East Bay High,” County Commissioner Stacy White said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “When we were growing up, recreation was different.” It involved riding in the back of a pickup truck or running around a farm or ranch.
“As the area grew more in population, it needed more places like the Y for exercise, sports and fun, a place to build lifelong bonds,” White said.
“Never underestimate the power of a coffee with friends,” added Commissioner Sandy Murman. That’s how it started a decade ago, she said. “This project was born out of love for children and families. It was an easy partnership for the county. Building this kind of partnership is the future of the county.”
“I’m still soaking it all in,” said Jennifer Murphy, the Tampa YMCA Governance Board vice chair.
To drive home what the new Y is all about, the Schrier family, Sheri, Scott and their two boys, were invited to the podium. The boys have been playing soccer on the Y field for six seasons now.
“I have lived a lot of places,” Scott Schrier said. “Riverview is not a place I live. Riverview is my home.”
Seven-year-old Max Schrier said every time the family has come to the soccer fields over the last year, they’ve peered over to watch the progress of the new Y building, and he’s glad it’s finally finished. Matt Mitchell, CEO of the Tampa YMCA, said the Spurlino Family YMCA grand opening is an appropriate way to celebrate 130 years of the YMCA in Hillsborough County.