Jets, YMCA find partnership mutually beneficial

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, March 1, 2013

Were it not for the Janesville Jets attire, it might have been difficult to single out the new faces working out at the YMCA of Northern Rock County.

But there they were, members of the local North American Hockey League team, getting cardio work on stationary bikes, lifting free weights and pushing through core-strengthening exercises on floor mats.

"Everyone kind of does whatever they need to do (to stay fit). We had a team basketball game yesterday," said Jason Ford, 18, of Waunakee, who plays center for the Jets.

Members of the team began exercising at the facility last month after the two organizations created a partnership they believe benefits not themselves but the community.

"We were looking for a place to have players work out and be more involved in the community," said Greg Hanthorn, Jets operations manager.

The YMCA provides that through its fitness facility and programs, where players can serve as volunteer mentors to youth members, said YMCA CEO Tom Den Boer.

It's fitting that the two groups would work together. Sportsmanship, honor and discipline are among the Jets' core values, and caring, honesty, respect and responsibility are stressed at the YMCA.

"It's huge for us that we have a state-of-the-art facility for our players to use daily without a huge cost to our organization, so we can put money back into other things," Hanthorn said. "It also gives us the opportunity to meet a lot of people that might not know about the Jets and hockey, plus have our players give back as coaches and mentors for youth sports programs that help round them out as we move them forward in life."

As part of the partnership, the YMCA will get to hand out program information during Jets' games, which draw crowds of up to 1,500 people to the Janesville Ice Arena.

"That's huge in marketing awareness," Den Boer said.

Den Boer said he recognizes the power and potential of creating partnerships.

"Finding and matching resources provides additional benefits that we would not get alone," he said. "The Y is benefiting through the Jets' fan base, ownership and supporters that we would not get unless this alliance was formed, and Y kids are getting exposed to young key leaders in the community that adds to their mentoring."

Hanthorn agrees.

"This partnership benefits us and the YMCA," he said. "But the people it benefits the most is the community."

Last updated: 8:00 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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