Athletes come together to share memories of times at the YMCA

Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016



The Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA has spent decades growing, nurturing and training young athletes to become better versions of themselves.

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Many of them have graduated from Bainbridge High School or Grace Christian Academy and found success in college or professional sports. Others, including the younger athletes, are looking up to these role models from their community.

Setting goals, training hard and achieving their dreams, with academics and athletics alike.

“It definitely helped me out a lot,” former Bainbridge football player Rohan Gaines said. “Chase your dreams, they can come true. I’m living mine right now, because I worked hard at it. Work hard, stay in school, and things will work out.”

Gaines is currently at camp with the Los Angeles Rams fresh off of graduating from Arkansas. He started as a cornerback his junior and senior years for the Razorbacks. Everything started in Bainbridge, where he fell in love with the sport playing flag football at 7 years old.

“Then it was tackle football at 8, travel football when I was 11 and 12,” Gaines recalled. “Rather than being on the streets, kids can come here to lift weights, train, take their aggression and put it into something positive.”

Devon Baulkman just finished a college career at Tennessee, where he started as guard. He helped lead the team to a 65-39 record across the two seasons he played there.

Now he’s bringing his talents back to train kids at Bainbridge.

Tuesday morning, he was working with youth in the gym, dribbling with them up and down the court and teaching them the fundamentals that will help them reach success one day.

YMCA fitness director Kathy Bell has also grown up at the Bainbridge Y. She started as the first lifeguard the Y ever had in 1986, and continued her career since then.

Other athletes, like Evan Oldaker, are fresh out of high school and heading to college to continue their careers. Oldaker signed a kicking scholarship with Miles College in February.

GCA’s all-time leading basketball scorer Jack McRae is heading to UGA on an academic scholarship, encouraging youth that putting work in the classroom and on the court can yield big success.

“Just keep going,” Gaines said. “Even when circumstances might not be great, just keep going. You never know when you might get your opportunity.”