Y opens new gym Saturday

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
New era

Southwest Montana Family YMCA CEO Todd Rouse stands on the running track above the new gymnasium at the Dillon facility. While the finish cures leading up to this Saturday’s opening, Rouse plans to be the first to shoot a basket on the shiny new court, and hopes even more that he is the first to make a basket. J.P. Plutt photo

The gym the Southwestern Montana Family YMCA has wanted since it evolved into an entity in Dillon in 2004, will open this Saturday with a three-team youth basketball tournament. The addition not only includes a full-sized basketball court with six baskets, a running track, but will also soon add a climbing wall.

“It is an absolutely beautiful gym, beautiful floor,” said YMCA CEO/Fitness Director Todd Rouse. “We think it is going to be a fantastic addition to Dillon and Beaverhead County, even Madison County for that matter.”

A gym was in the original plans for the Y when it came into being, but reality set in when funds did not keep up with rising material costs and a decision had to be made on what to keep and what to put on a wish list. Community survey’s had indicated a swimming pool was the number one objective on the list of future members, and a weight training facility could fit in under the budget, so the gymnasium was axed.

In 2015, Rouse approached the Y’s Board of Directors about taking on the challenge of committing effort to raise money to and the dream addition to the facility.

“It has taken us a while, but we’re finally there,” said Rouse. “It is not over, we still have to do some fundraising for a westside addition.”

For now, Rouse will be happy with the vast array of new programming the Y can add to their slate of offerings. In addition to basketball, they will be able to play volleyball, floor hockey, dodge ball, indoor tennis, and Rouse is particularly optimistic about the sport of pickle ball, an activity that his research reveals is the number one growing sport in the United States. The Y has painted lines for two courts on the gym floor and projects good numbers due to the fact that members from 3 to 93 can participate.

“It is going to be a fantastic addition,” said Rouse of the new construction. “It is going to bring more people into the Y and give us a lot more variety in programming.”

A memory from Rouse’s youth gives him reassurance that kids will find their way to the gym. Rouse recalls that even though there were eight different indoor basketball courts around town, a typical kid couldn’t gain access to shoot hoops. He and his buddies would shovel snow and chip ice on an outdoor court just to compete in hoop.

“That’s how bad we wanted to play ball,” Rouse explained. “If they had something like the Y gym back then, I would have lived in that place.”

The Y currently has a makeshift walking/running path of sorts, that at times, intermingles participants with other activites going on in the mezzanine area of the building. The new track stands alone, circling a floor above the gym. According to Rouse, the track has a soft, spongy, rubber surface and banked curves. It takes 11 laps to cover a mile on the new track compared to 22 laps for a mile on the old circuit.

“We know that we’re going to open that gym on February 6th, whether the construction company is totally completed or not,” said Rouse of a few previous delays to the opening. “They’ve got some odds and ends to do, but they’re just going to have to work around us because we want to get that thing open and start providing the people in the community with all the great stuff they gym has to offer.”

At some point in the near future, the Y will hold an official grand opening, but for now, it is time to play.

“I want to thank all of the donors who have given to the project, and I want to thank the Board of Directors at the Y, and all of the people who worked to do the fundraising and the members,” concluded Rouse. “Without all of these people, we wouldn’t have it.”