By LINDA CHION KENNEY
The FishHawk Triathlon Club, in support of the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA, presented a check to Jarrod Williams, center executive director at the Spurlino Family YMCA at Big Bend Road in Gibsonton.
Laura Hovan Oehler, representing the club, said it was “such a pleasure” to present the check at the pot-of-gold on display at the Riverview area facility on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. She gave a shout-out as well to Williams, who previously served as the center executive director at the Campo Family YMCA in Valrico, where Hovan’s daughter, Sloane, worked as a swim instructor and lifeguard.
Hovan said she first learned of the FishHawk Triatholon club when her daughter, then a Bloomingdale High School student in Valrico, entered the annual Top Gun Triathalon in St. Petersrburg.
“She was looking for a local club she could start training with, which is how she stumbled on the club,” Hovan said. “They welcomed her and other people interested in triathlon training with their invitation to train, as well as to attend group biking, running and swimming events and outings.”
Hovan, a runner, said her daughter encouraged her to broaden her training, which is why “in my late 40’s I added swimming and biking to the mix,” Laura Hovan Oehler said. “Sloane and I had the joy of doing multiple races together.”
Sloane Hovan, now 31, as a collegiate triathlete at the University of North Florida home on summer break, would continue her training with the club and her lifeguard and swim instruction duties with YMCA. Her brother, Brent, now 26, worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor with the YMCA in Plant City.
“That’s why I have a soft spot for the YMCA,” Hovan said. “We were able to see behind the scenes what the Y was doing in the community, and especially with swim instruction and water safety, for swimmers of all ages.”
As the newest location in the Tampa Y association, the Spurlino Family Y opened its doors in 2019, receiving LEED Gold certification and a building design award from the Hillsborough County Planning Commission. Among its many offerings are personal and group training and youth sports programs in basketball, cheerleading and dance, football, golf, gymnastics, martial arts, soccer and volleyball.
In aquatics, the Spurlino Family Y offers swimming lessons from age 6 months through adulthood, competitive swimming opportunities, American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification and more.
“Again, that’s the reason I have a soft spot for the YMCA,” Laura Hovan Oehler said. “My kids took their love of swimming to the Y, which gives a lot of kids the opportunity to have their first jobs, as swim instructors and lifeguards. And for our club members and other adults, they have master swim classes to further our training as well.”
Also noted is that the YMCA “gives back to the community, particularly when it comes to safety around water, swim lessons and providing access to the pool for children who are economically disadvantaged,” Laura Hovan Oehler said.
As a real estate agent, licensed both in Texas and Florida, Hovan spends her time between the states. She was in town for the March 17 check presentation, which comes from funds raised by the FishHawk Triathlon Club when it was a nonprofit. Following COVID pandemic challenges, the club continues today as a social club, with training and event opportunities noted on its Facebook page.
“To me, it’s important that we recognized other organizations with the funds that our club raised,” said Laura Hovan Oehler, about the $1,700 check presented at the Spurlino Family Y on March 17. A $1,700 check was to be presented as well to the Plant City Family YMCA this week.