Gatorade Player of the Year

Catawba Ridge High School athlete and Gatorade South Carolina Cross Country Player of the Year, Sam Rich, awarded YMCA of Upper Palmetto with a $1,000 grant to help accomplish our mission of building health spirits, minds and bodies for all. 

Sports have seen a double-digit decline over the past decade, largely due to tighter budgets in communities, but young people that participate in sports are found to be happier, healthier and better students. Gatorade Play It Forward empowers Gatorade Player of the Year recipients across the country to award local or national sports organizations with grants, so they can continue helping young athletes enjoy the benefit of sports.

“The Gatorade Player of the Year award highlights student-athletes who set an example both on and off the field,” said Kara Darling, Assistant Marketing Manager for Gatorade Player of the Year. “The grants give these athletes a chance to donate to organizations like YMCA of Upper Palmetto, that positively impact the youth in their own communities.”

A devoted member of his church community, Rich has donated his time as a math tutor and Vacation Bible School leader, and has also volunteered assisting the homeless. “Sam is a true student of the sport,” said Catawba Ridge High School coach David Helms. “He is constantly analyzing situations, courses, opponents and his own training to become the best athlete he can be. He’s a true talent, but an even better human being.” Rich has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at the University of Notre Dame this fall. During his cross country career, he has also been committed to personal training with Baxter Close YMCA trainer, John Adams. Read more about Sam’s accomplishments here:

All 608 Gatorade State Player of the Year recipients are awarded a grant to donate to the organization of their choosing. Each Player of the Year can also submit a video about why their organization is deserving of one of 12 Spotlight Grants, which is a larger monetary award.

Gatorade has a longstanding history of serving athlete communities and is to continue doing more to create positive change. Most recently, Gatorade announced Fuel Tomorrow, a new multi-year initiative to help everyone have equal opportunities to play sports and realize their potential.

To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter #GatoradePOY. For more on Gatorade Play It Forward, the Gatorade Player of the Year, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit

About Gatorade Player of the Year

The Gatorade Player of the Year is an athletic award program that annually recognizes student-athletes not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track & field. The Gatorade Player of the Year award is the most prestigious award in high school sports. In existence for more than 35 years, past winners include Peyton Manning, Sydney McLaughlin, Mallory Pugh, Karl-Anthony Towns, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, and many other sports icons.

Play It Forward is Gatorade’s cause marketing platform, which empowers every one of the Gatorade Player of the Year award winners to choose a local or national youth sport organization to receive a $1,000 grant from Gatorade. Gatorade State Players of the Year may also submit a short video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of 12 Spotlight Grants, which awards $10,000 to the organization.

YMCA Spring/Summer Holiday Hours


Friday, April 7 | Branches Closed
Sunday, April 9 | Branches Closed


Monday, May 29 | Branches Closed


Tuesday, July 4 | Branches Closed


Monday, September 4 | Branches Closed

We hope that you enjoy celebrating these holidays  by spending time with those you love! Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Remember, if you have signed your Fitness+ Access Agreement, you have access to workout at Riverwalk YMCA and YMCA Wellness Center on holidays from 8:00am – 8:00pm.


Upcoming Blood Drives

February is American Heart Month, which is a great time to check up your heart health by donating blood. The YMCA of Upper Palmetto is continuing service to our community with a series of blood drives in collaboration with OneBlood. Look for the Big Red Bus at one of our upcoming blood drives.


Saturday, February 19 | 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
CSD Community YMCA | Register Here

Wednesday, February 23 | 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Indian Land YMCA | Register Here

Friday, March 11 | 2:00 pm – 5:00pm
CSD Community YMCA | Register Here

Saturday, March 26 | 9:00 am – 2:00pm
Baxter Close YMCA | Register Here

Monday, March 28 | 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Fort Mill YMCA at the Complex | Register Here

*Walk-in donations will be available, but advance sign-ups are encouraged given the strict safety protocols for screening and social distancing.


On behalf of the staff team and board of directors of the YMCA of Upper Palmetto, we are happy to announce that Rachel Basmaci, Senior Program Director at Indian Land YMCA, has been selected from 220 nominees representing more than 70 Y associations nationwide for the third annual 30 Under 30 Class honored by the Emerging Leaders Resource Network.

In the summer of 2017, the National Emerging Leaders Resource Network Steering Committee embarked upon a strategic planning process. Through research, we identified a substantial imbalance between the proportion of Millennials as it relates to the total workforce in the USA and the percentage of Millennials who make up the YMCA workforce. In other words, the YMCA workforce is aging as the rest of the country’s workforce is getting younger. After conversations with our stakeholders, we determined the need to create a recognition program for emerging leaders across the Movement. This program seeks to identify and formally acknowledge 30 full-time YMCA leaders under the age of 30 for their accomplishments and recognize their potential to lead our many Y Associations in the coming decades.

2020 and 2021 have been years unlike any other across the nation and throughout the YMCA Movement. Leaders from all over have committed to doing what it takes to ensure their community has the support they need to stay strong through this trying time. Because of this, the National Emerging Leaders Resource Network Steering Committee felt it was imperative to continue to recognize the work of our under 30 colleagues working beside us each day.

About Rachel

Rachel has worked or volunteered for the YMCA since she was 12. At her previous Y, she worked in every department the Y had, but spent most of her time in Camp and Sports. She was part of the Leaders Club program where she volunteered thousands of hours which led her to the Role Model Award and Volunteer of the Year for 2013. After graduating with her Masters in Health Education and Behavior, Rachel became the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) coordinator for the YMCA of the Suncoast, where she ensured people of all health risks have an opportunity to take back their health. She also served as the Clearwater YMCA’s Leaders Club Advisor. Rachel transitioned all in-person DPP classes to online at the start of COVID. She offered to work as a Wellness Coach and Fitness Floor Association when Ys opened back up.

After nearly a year as the DPP coordinator, Rachel accepted a job as the Senior Program Director to open the new Indian Land YMCA. She moved states and opened up a new YMCA as one of two directors that hired, onboarded and trained all 85 employees the new YMCA needed via phone and FaceTime since in-person interviews were limited due to COVID. She oversees Aquatics, Wellness and Child watch, and briefly oversaw the Afterschool care program. She also serves on the Wellness and Aquatics Quality Circles for the YMCA of Upper Palmetto to continue improving the quality of opportunities we offer our members.

When she’s not at the Y, Rachel enjoys traveling, coffee and SCUBA diving. Her journey at the Y has been filled with every area the Y has to offer. Rachel says, “I love to learn, lead and teach! I love to take any opportunity I can get to learn something new or work with and teach others.”

Congratulations Rachel!

Read more about the Emerging Leaders Resource Network and the other 30 Under 30 classmates here:

YMCA Hours for Christmas & New Year Holidays

YMCA of Upper Palmetto will have adjusted hours for the Christmas & New Year holidays.


Thursday, December 23 | Association Resource Office Closed
Friday, December 24 | Branches Closed
Saturday, December 25 | Branches Closed
Sunday, December 26 | Branches open regular Sunday hours


Friday, December 31, 2021 | Branches close at 2:00pm
Saturday, January 1, 2022 | Branches Closed

We hope that you enjoy celebrating this time of year by spending time with those you love! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from our family to yours!



Thank you for supporting YMCA of Upper Palmetto this #GivingTuesday!

Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the giving season. This year, Giving Tuesday takes place on November 30. What makes it so special? It’s 100% driven by people inspired to make a positive difference—people just like you. The Y is committed to helping our community build a stronger, healthier, and better us. We hope you’ll consider contributing to the Y. Every gift—no matter how big or small—makes an enduring impact right here in our neighborhood.

Double Your Impact

This year, an anonymous donor has pledged to match all Giving Tuesday gifts, up to $5,000! Make your donation go twice as far. All donations made between now and November 30 have the chance to be doubled!


By understanding the three habits of child sexual abuse prevention – KNOW. SEE. RESPOND – we can create a safer world for children.

KNOWing the facts about child sexual abuse can help you better understand what to look for and how to prevent abuse.

Offenders often attempt to press boundaries and break rules. When we SEE boundaries being crossed, rules being violated, or see signs a child is being sexually abused, we must be prepared to intervene on a child’s behalf.

If you suspect abuse, how do you RESPOND? When it comes to reporting abuse, it can be intimidating, but it does not have to be! If you are prepared, you will know exactly when and how to report. In our counties, you should report abuse to the South Carolina Department of Social Services at 1-888-CARE4US (1-888-227-3487). Learn more about reporting abuse at

Check out the KNOW. SEE. RESPOND. booklet for tips on the three habits, including questions to ask the organizations serving your children about their child protection policy and hiring practices.

You can access our prevention policy at this link. These policies are reviewed yearly and follow or exceed all best practices.

Together, we foster a culture of child abuse prevention. Find prevention tips and resources by checking out

Angie Smith

Angie Smith, is a gifted writer, encourager and loving mother of four. Together with her husband, former NFL player Steve Smith, they established The Steve Smith Family Foundation, which is dedicated to providing hope and inspiration to those in need while advancing causes  close to the family’s heart – Promoting family health & wellness as well as the awareness and prevention of domestic violence.

In 2022, The Steve Smith Foundation and Mecklenburg County partnered to create Charlotte’s first behavioral health urgent care, a 24/7, 365 urgent care facility dedicated to mental health and substance abuse needs.

Angie’s commitment to her family, transparency and unselfishness, by putting other’s needs before her own, is an inspiration to all of us!

Alan Tyson

Alan Tyson is the President Architech Sports and Physical Therapy. He was the former Vice President of Sports Performance and Rehabilitation for OrthoCarolina. He is a physical therapist board certified as a sports clinical specialist, a certified athletic trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist. He has worked with the Charlotte Knights (AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) and continues to serve as a consultant to the team. Alan is also a consultant with the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Eagles.

Alan has spoken regionally and nationally on various training topics including the foot and ankle, spine care, hip and knee rehabilitation, and he has developed two continuing education courses on the shoulder. He has written 3 books and developed specific training programs for the female athlete, the baseball pitcher, and for football players preparing for the NFL combines. Alan is also an associate editor of the National Strength and Conditioning Journal. He co-hosted a weekly radio show “Health Headlines” on 1110AM WBT with Stacey Sims and Dr. Russ Greenfield for 3 years.

Antoinette Johnson

Meet Antoinette Johnson, the inspiring culinary star of “America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation” Hailing from Lexington, KY, she transforms simple, humble ingredients into extraordinary dishes, all while championing the use of fresh, locally-sourced produce. Through her triumph on “America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation,” Antoinette’s unwavering perseverance catapulted her career, proving that with passion and determination, anything is possible. With a heart dedicated to community and a love for supporting local farmers, Antoinette’s journey is a testament to embracing change, fostering growth, and inspiring others to follow their culinary dreams.

Beyond her culinary triumphs, Antoinette is a firm believer in the power of evolution and perseverance. She stands as a shining example of how one can constantly evolve, change, and grow on their journey to success. Antoinette’s story is one of resilience and determination, inspiring others to follow their passions despite any challenges they may encounter.

Now, with a cookbook deal and cash grand prize, Antoinette is forging ahead on her culinary adventure, driven by the desire to prove herself and inspire her daughter.