A hometown kid has returned after college to lead the Maquoketa Area Family YMCA’s youth programs.
Brian Specht is the Maquoketa Area Family YMCA’s new youth program director.
“It is my pleasure to let you know that Brian Specht has joined our YMCA leadership team,” Executive Director Scott Warren announced. “Brian will provide leadership to youth sports and activities as well as aquatics.”
Specht is a 2015 Maquoketa High School graduate who was active in basketball and soccer. He has also worked as a summer day camp counselor and coach with Maquoketa’s YMCA.
During college for business administration at the University of Dubuque, Specht worked at Fareway in Maquoketa and Dubuque and completed a management internship with Menard’s.
Talking about his job, Specht emphasized the YMCA’s inclusive environment.
“We want to make a fun environment for every kid, where every kid can be part of a team,” he said.
Specht said he wants to get the word out to parents about YMCA programs.
“The numbers have gone way down,” he said. “I want to get as many kids involved as possible.”
Nationwide, the percentage of kids participating in youth sports is decreasing, according to a 2017 report from the Aspen Institute. More privileged kids and more motivated families are spending more and more time and money on competitive traveling teams, but recreational sports, such as those at the Y, are suffering.
Maquoketa Area Family YMCA youth programs include soccer, flag football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, T-ball, K-ball, tennis and speed and agility.
Specht “looks forward to creating an enjoyable environment where everyone can be an equal part of the team,” Warren said.
Prices vary, but youth soccer and baseball seasons, for example, are $20 for members and $40 for non-members. Membership at the Y is based on a sliding income-based scale.
Specht got his feet wet with soccer and took over programming for the baseball and softball season. Now, it’s almost T-ball time for preschoolers and K-ball time for kindergarteners.
He’s made a few changes so far. Under Specht’s leadership, for example, new dri-fit jerseys from Maquoketa’s Fagan Graphics and Tees have one, larger sponsor on each jersey back instead of many harder-to-read sponsors.
Specht’s reward is seeing “the finished product, how well basketball and softball are going,” he said. “And just seeing the kids out there having fun.”