Pickleball grows at the Dodge Y on Atlantic Avenue
New Dodge Y Healthy Lifestyles Director has programs for all ages
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — There are signs of a renaissance on Atlantic Avenue, even as civic leaders and residents prepare for a future review process to renovate the block-long detention center site, and bring in new retail.
A mainstay of the avenue is the beloved Dodge Y at the corner of Court Street. Opened on Atlantic Avenue on Sept. 6, 2005, the Y is one of many branches serving Brooklyn, having emerged from the YMCA which was founded on Hanson Place soon after the turn of the last century. A generous grant from the Dodge family renamed this branch, which was located in Brooklyn Heights in the 1960s.
The Brooklyn Eagle interviewed Oliver Lopez, the Dodge Y’s Healthy Lifestyles Director. In an ongoing series, the Eagle will explore longstanding neighborhood branches of the Y which serve every corner of Brooklyn in an effective and hyperlocal way.
Q&A with Oliver Lopez:
BROOKLYN EAGLE: Now that the Dodge Y is part of the Pickle Ball phenomenon, can you tell us the age groups with which you’re dealing?
OLIVER LOPEZ: Our pickleball program currently serves adult members during the day sessions, whereas we have growing teen populations that play during the evening session.
EAGLE: When did you come to the Dodge Y, and was that your first foray into Brooklyn?
LOPEZ: I started working at the Dodge YMCA around 10 years ago. At the time I was living in the Bronx so the commute was my first time, work-wise, coming to Brooklyn. In that time frame of working at the Dodge YMCA, I was fortunate to have great supervisors who nurtured my growth and offered me opportunities to develop and take on more roles.
EAGLE: The Dodge Y has always been known to be a great place for all ages. Can you clarify the programs that are popular with different age groups?
LOPEZ: Dodge YMCA serves many age groups with its programs. We have kids, teen, adult, and older adult-based programming, such as kids’ sports and dance classes; kids and adults swimming programs/classes; group exercise classes for adults and seniors. We also have after-school programs and a summer camp.
EAGLE: Tell us a little about your own background in this kind of programming.
LOPEZ: Was first interested in health and wellness when I was in high school. I participated in multiple sports and soon realize how important fitness and wellness were in order to perform well. Fast forward I became a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist (RDN) in 2017, at the same time of my course work I was working at the Dodge YMCA as Fitness Center Coach, Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Instructor. During my time in those roles and with my education background, I found an appreciation for developing fitness, wellness, and sports programming that fit the needs and wants of all ages.
EAGLE: More informally, tell us what you like most about working in Brooklyn, particularly the historic Atlantic Avenue.
LOPEZ: I think I heard this a while back, but when I first moved out to Brooklyn someone told me “that’s the young person’s borough”. I assumed they meant more of the Eastern side of Brooklyn but also downtown Brooklyn with its growing population, industries, nightlife, restaurants, etc. I hear all the time from my older staff and members just how much this area has changed over the years, how more developed it is than just 10 years ago when I first came here!
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