CARROLLWOOD - The YMCA is not only about kids having a way to spend their summer, or that time after school waiting for their ride home.
Adults also play a big part in the Bob Sierra YMCA. Phil Tensley works with kids all the way from the ages of 3 to 17. He's pushing for an adult league, but for now, he has his hands full with the more than 600 kids who participate in the basketball program at the YMCA in Northdale. Adults have access to the courts, but, with limited space, there's simply no room on the schedule for an adult league.
Tensley said he plans to change all of that.
"We like what we have going on here," Tensley said. "We develop kids at all different levels and all different tiers so everyone can be involved."
Although there are leagues for every skill level, there are tryouts for elite teenage teams. Those leagues start as early as fifth grade, but the top players range from ninth through 11th grades.
"We give lessons and make sure they all get playing time," Tensley said. "Everyone can play and we are a lot different than AAU ball, where it's all about winning. Here, we teach kids how to learn the basic fundamentals and have a good time, and when we play outside of our YMCA, people are surprised by how good we are."
Matt Surts handles the swimming at the YMCA. He has coaching experience in the developmental leagues and teaches competitive swimming for kids ages 5 to 18, depending on the quality of competition. There's a difference in the talent levels at each tier, but Surts said his kids could take on any team in the state.
"We play against some really good teams both in and out of the YMCA and we can hold our own," Surts said. "Our kids work hard. The kids who are competitive train up to six days a week all year and up to 12 hours a week."
Surts has an adult swim team and former Olympian Rowdy Gaines is one of its biggest supporters.
Then there is soccer, another game adults play at the Y. Dan Kristmann runs the Northdale program and works with kids ages 3-17.
"In our league, it's all about development," Kristmann said. "We also run an adult league and we have more than 600 players ranging from kids to adults."
Like the swimming program, the levels of competition differ according to degree of talent. There are different tiers, but everyone who is enrolled gets to play at one level or another. There are tryouts for the final spots on the elite teams.
Kristmann offers group and private lessons as well.
"We have rec leagues, technically, but we want to compete with anyone," Tensley said. "We are mostly internal now, playing other YMCAs, but we feel like our teams can take on anyone."
For information on programs at the Bob Sierra YMCA, call (813) 962-3220. The YMCA is at 4029 Northdale Blvd.