In relating her path to her new position as executive director of the Beach & Bay Family YMCA on Ingraham Street, Leane Marchese recalled she was 10 years old when her mom first sent her to the YMCA — the one in Encinitas. That was during the ’70s recession, she told PB Monthly, and her dad had lost his job and her mother had to find somewhere for young Marchese to stay while she went back to work.
“Mom gave me a quarter and my bathing suit and said, ‘You can go to the Y,’ ” Marchese explained. “And I hung out at the pool all day. I hung out at the Y. What could have been a really horrible experience turned into a lifetime passion and a lifetime of work.”
During her high school years, Marchese said she was “a bit of a rebel,” so one day a coach sat her down and told her: “You really need some responsibility, girl, so you need to go find a job.”
Jumping on that sound advice, Marchese went back to the Y in Encinitas (known today as the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA) and got hired as an afterschool leader. The job led to a camp counselor position.
“I fell in love with the work and I fell in love with just being a part of a community-based organization making a difference in peoples’ lives,” she said. “I’ve done so much with the Y, and the organization has given so much back to me. Now, to be named an executive director of a branch is kind of a dream come true.”
Marchese’s predecessor, Mike Roberts, had to leave the post last year due to family health circumstances, so she served as the interim executive director for six months prior to taking the position permanently. For five years before that, she was regional associate executive director at the Mission Valley YMCA.
Marchese received her bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management from California State University, Chico, and earned a master’s degree in Community Services & Recreation from Clemson University. Today, she lives in Solana Beach with her two teenage boys — though she emphasized she would love to live in PB someday.
Beach & Bay Family YMCA
The Beach & Bay Family YMCA, at 4606 Ingraham St., opened its doors in July 2017 as a development and outreach office. Today, 650 members sign-in at that location. The facility served nearly 4,500 kids and families in the Pacific Beach area last year. Currently, it’s operating out an old library and parking lot, but big things are on the horizon, and the program just keeps growing.
“PB’s kind of changing from that crazy college town it’s always been known for, to definitely a more family-centric, young professional kind of town,” she opined. With this in mind, her vision is to launch more affordable programs for families and cancer survivors, along with more child-focused activities.
One of Beach & Bay Family YMCA’s new programs is called Afterschool Enrichment. Developed in the past six months, it is tailored to middle school students and offers a climbing wall, gaga ball, padel tennis, fitness and movement, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) art and leadership.
The Group Ex (Exercise) program is being expanded with new instructors and classes, as well. Bad weather will no longer be an obstacle for Beach & Bay members’ fitness, Marchese added. Since October, the indoor area is offering cardio and strength equipment, such as treadmills, ellipticals, an AMT (Adaptive Motion Trainer) and bikes. In the past, fitness equipment was only available outdoors.
Padel tennis, anyone?
If padel tennis doesn’t ring a bell, that’s probably because Beach & Bay Family YMCA is the first — and only — place in San Diego to offer it.
Padel tennis is a racket sport popular in Spain, Europe and Latin America, that combines elements of tennis and squash. The Beach & Bay Y offers two state-of-the-art padel tennis courts, private classes for one-on-one or small groups, and even has coaches certified in padel tennis training.
The sport is perfect for families and socializing, said Marchese, as padel courts are smaller than tennis courts and surrounded by four walls. An afterschool padel ball program is in the works.
One of Marchese’s roles as executive director — aside from program development, overall operations and communication with members to ensure satisfaction with the organization — is to be out in the community to spread the word about the Beach & Bay YMCA and all it has to offer, as well as to help with fundraising to build a new Y in the same location. The goal is to raise an estimated $17 million for the project, according to Courtney Pendleton, associate director of public relations. Specific features of the project will be dependent on how much money is raised, but the new Y will include a swimming pool.
“We’ve heard the community,” Marchese said. “We’ve done countless focus groups, surveys ... every single day I’m here (people ask) ‘When are we building a new Y?’ ”
The Beach & Bay YMCA is in the “silent phase” of the fundraising process, Marchese explained, during which time she and the organization are searching for bigger donations to set the pace for future gifts. The goal is to be able to announce a timeline next year for when the new YMCA will begin construction.
Family event Feb. 8
A free event to celebrate the kick-off of the Y’s annual campaign efforts (for the PB branch specifically) runs 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Beach & Bay Family Y. The event will include access to the climbing wall, crafts for the kids, a Valentine Day family photo opportunity and more. Plus, it’s a place where YMCA members can swap stories of how the Y has impacted their lives, regardless of where they’re from.
“When you belong to one Y, you belong to all the Ys,” said Marchese.
More details will be available online soon at bit.ly/ymcabeachandbay or the Beach & Bay Family YMCA Facebook page. For more about the Annual Campaign, visit bit.ly/ymcaannualcampaign
— Beach & Bay YMCA is open 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, 6 a.m. to noon and 2-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6 a.m. to noon and 2-6 p.m. Friday, and 7 a.m. to noon Saturday at 4606 Ingraham St. (858) 273-9622. bit.ly/ymcabeachandbay